My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 22-year-old student who sold off her phone without deleting her banking apps. She tells us about how it happened, discovering her account was compromised, and how that experience still affects her.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
I sold my phone a while ago to my brother’s acquaintance, and he was able to access my banking apps because I didn’t delete them.
How did that happen?
So, I gave my brother my phone to sell. I didn’t delete anything from the phone under the assumption that he would format the phone before letting it go. And I’m not sure if he forgot or just wasn’t paying attention, but he sold off the phone to an acquaintance without clearing it. So the new owner got a hold of the phone with my mobile banking apps and my notes, which had my passwords.
It feels obvious, but what happened next?
I just started receiving random debit alerts of little amounts — ₦2,500 here, ₦5,000 there. He probably didn’t want to make a one-time transfer or withdrawal that would be obvious, I don’t know. But I didn’t notice for a while.
And what would go through your mind whenever you saw these debits?
I don’t know. I order food a lot, and I’m always making one payment or the other. Banks also send a lot of late debits, and it’s never really a lot of money at once, so it didn’t raise any flags immediately. Now that I think about it, I’m also a little careless and don’t pay attention to these things.
When did you notice then?
Of course, it became a little too much for me to not notice; it was stressing me out. I thought it was my bank being funny, so I went to the bank to complain. They told me to check the amount and kind of devices connected to the account from the app. I saw my iPhone X and my new phone as the active devices, and that’s when I reached out to my brother to ask how far with the phone. He told me he’d sold it, and that’s when we made the connection.
How long did this happen for?
About 2 months.
And how much was involved in total?
That’s hard to tell because it was in small bits over that period of time. I think a part of me is still happy that he didn’t take all the money in one swoop or something drastic.
What happened to the guy and your brother though?
Nothing. I know they just stopped talking. I don’t know if anything else happened.
Damn. Has anything changed since then?
I now obsessively check that active devices section on my app every now and then, because that moment was so traumatic. Generally, I’ve become more security conscious, really.