You may be receiving unwanted calls repeatedly from unknown callers. From vishing (voice phishing) attacks to random marketing calls, and unexpected and unwanted calls from an incessant stalker.
Phone numbers have become a unique digital ID linked to many critical items. With the growth of Fintech, phone numbers are one of the key features driving neobanks. Hence, it is important to guard your phone number.
Avoid sharing your number publicly especially if the number is linked to sensitive items such as bank accounts.
Unknown Callers are part of Cyberthreats
We have looked at the different cyberthreats Kenyans face especially when it comes to phone calls like the Wangiri scam calls that can hurt you financially. Further, we have looked into Smishing (text message scams) and how they can be used against you.
Based on the Communications of Authority (CA) report, Kenyans faced significant cyber threats. In total, 187,757, 659 cyber threats were detected. Additionally, the authority issued a total of 3,584,966 cybersecurity advisories.
Cybersecurity advisories are notifications of significant new trends or developments regarding the threats different technologies and systems face. This alert may include analytical insights into trends, intentions, technologies, or tactics of attackers.
With this in mind, take caution when receiving calls from new numbers. Employ one of the easy tricks we have outlined below to avoid scammers and marketing spam.
Remember to make use of Safaricom’s USSD *333# to report cons.
1.Use Popular Messaging Apps
One simple trick you can use is saving the number. Save the number with any initials and then go to a popular messaging app e.g. WhatsApp and Telegram. Sometimes on WhatsApp users have created names and have left them viewable to anyone who has the contact.
If the unknown number that has contacted you has a WhatsApp name viewable you may be able to know who is calling. Another way is checking the profile picture, again this is dependent on the person’s privacy settings. Further, it depends on what the profile picture is.
Telegram also allows users to create public usernames, this is one of its many features. Once you save a number all you have to find a Telegram profile, all users have to do is search for it on the app. Again, you always have a look at the profile picture.
You may be lucky and find the person’s real profile picture and recognize them. Maybe it was someone you shared your number with and forgot about it.
However, Telegram does not ask users to set up a username while creating an account — it is an optional feature.
2.Use Caller Identification Mobile Apps
Make use of caller identification mobile apps. Perhaps the most common one is Truecaller. Mobile identification apps will assist you in knowing who is calling you and other details including name, email address, and location.
True Caller is a popular multiple-purpose Caller identification app to identify caller information from an unknown number. It also features community-based spam reporting and auto-spam call and SMS blocking. When other users report a number as spam it is immediately flagged as such and you can see the metrics.
This is a good way to avoid the “Kamiti” Scams and Wangiri phone calls.
These apps do not come without a trade-off. Nothing is for free. For instance, Truecaller will ask to have access to your contact list. Basically, how the app populates its database is by getting users to share their contact list.
One can find this as an invasion of privacy. Additionally, you cannot trust any company in regards to the extent they can go once they have your precious data.
Using the Truecaller Web Version
Truecaller has both paid and free options. It is an app and also has a web version. The problem with the web version is number filtering is not automatic when a call or SMS comes in.
If you are concerned about your data privacy, you can sign up on the Truecaller web version with an email you use. It’s always advisable to have an Email address for such registrations. Use the free version on the web to search for a phone number. The only drawback of this is that you are limited to up to 5 searches every 24 hours.
Once you learn the number is spam or a scammer, you can block unwanted calls on Android by adding the caller to the block list, contacting your carrier, and via third-party apps.
Hiya App is one such app that can help you block numbers. The one has a feature that can allow you to block a number prefix (0795 for example). A good way to avoid calls from Tala and other mobile loan apps in Kenya.
3. Use Search Engines to Find Unknown Callers
Sometimes an easy way is just trick perform a simple search for the phone number on a search engine, such as Google. Several websites keep track of fraud and spam numbers reported by individuals via community reporting.
Another reason is that the number can be for a company or a business. Thus, it could be listed on online directories or company websites.
To perform a phone number search, type the phone number in Google search. Google will crawl websites on the internet to try and locate any traces of the given number. It will also display any social media or other publicly available user profile associated with the phone number.
If you have been applying for jobs a company may call you and you miss the call. A simple search online may reveal it’s a company number.
4.Use M-Pesa Hakikisha Feature
In 2015 Safaricom launched a feature called Hakikisha to its M-Pesa. Hakikisha allows one to confirm the name of the intended recipient of funds, before completing an M-PESA transaction.
The pop-up feature applies when customers are using Send Money, making payments via Lipa Na M-PESA (PayBill option), agent withdrawals, or depositing funds at M-Pesa agents.
The feature is good for unmasking the identity of unknown callers.
Simply choose the send money option, and send as little as 1 shilling. Once the Hakikisha feature pops up with the name you can cancel the transaction.
The feature is not failproof as not all Safaricom numbers are registered on M-Pesa. However, if it’s a scammer looking for financial gains, it’s most likely registered.