Protecting yourself in Nigeria

Nigeria has an unfortunate reputation for theft and stealing on every scale, accurately or unfairly, depending on who you ask.

Whether it is whilst online, out and about, at work or in your home, there are several steps you can take to be safe whilst in Nigeria.

At Home

Domestic staff are fairly commonplace in Nigeria. Having a driver, cook, steward, nanny and security is standard in most middle income homes, in many cases there will be multiples to accommodate the families full-time needs. But with staff in your home comes risk. Risk of items going missing in your home, to being drugged or murdered! Whilst the more serious of these crimes are extremely rare, it is worthwhile taking every step to make sure you are not one of the unfortunate statistics.

Home Safety Tips

  1. Get a referral from someone you know (doesn’t always work out to be the same experience but it is often better than hiring a stranger). Or use a trustworthy agency who does basic checks on candidates (N.B. Not all agencies who say they do checks actually conduct the checks so do your own checking and verification as well).
  2. Hiring staff with inadequate identification is a huge mistake. Some employers only know the staff by their first name (may not even be their real name), so in the event of any incident who or how will you report or trace the person? Check identification (more than one if possible).
  3. Ask for references (and follow up on them)
  4. Ask for at least one Guarantor who actually knows the person (and follow up with them).
  5. Pay into a bank account (BVN is linked to identity so you can trace them if needs be via the bank account name).
  6. Check their profiles on social media, WhatsApp and Truecaller. If you spot anything alarming or inconsistent, do not ignore it.
  7. Do not give them access to your entire home. Lock away any valuable items or documents.
  8. Try to be aware of close relationships between staff. Cooks have been induced to assist or commit crimes at the behest of other staff due to their close proximity to the family. So be wary of too much interaction between outside and inside staff.
  9. Keep information on a need to know basis. Limit the information you share. NEVER discuss financial arrangements of any kind within earshot of staff.
  10. Vary your routine. If you are always away from the house on the same day of the week, you will be surprised to witness what will happen in your absence! Show up unexpectedly to check all is as it should be.
  11. Insist on receipts and change from monies spent. Complacency or being lax with accountability will mean liberties will be taken and the line will be blurred between what is yours and what is theirs.
  12. Use an employee identity and work history verification service – visit Verify Me to find out more.
  13. Add CCTV, NannyCam or both! Do not underestimate the determination of those who have their eye on your belongings.

Is a police check helpful?

On the surface a police check would sound like a good idea. However, it is unfortunately unreliable due to the lack of cohesion, no information sharing and no central database of criminals.

Also, it has been alleged criminal records can be expunged if you know the right people! So any information you obtain is not necessarily accurate or reliable.

In addition, most thefts in a domestic setting go unreported. Domestic theft is so commonplace that it has become an expectation that it will happen, so you are advised to take precautions. Victim shaming is often common place, as it should be easy to stop someone stealing from you. Sadly, criminally minded people can be very cunning and take any opportunity to steal however narrow the window of opportunity.

Should you register employees with police?

Registering domestic staff at a police station is a good deterrent to scare staff who may not be who they say they are or who have a criminal record.

One driver we hired disappeared on the way to obtain passport photos to go with his police registration!

Although a fee applies for registration, it is a lot less than the replacement costs you might face if you let a criminal in your home.

In Your Car

It is common to have a driver in Nigeria. Giving a complete stranger the keys and responsibility for your expensive asset should not be underestimated.

If you have a driver, make sure you know who they are! Where they live and who their family are! You never know when you might need this information. Follow the recommendations above for hiring domestic staff.

Here are additional tips to ensure your safety and the safety of your vehicle.

  1. Check driving licence is legitimate – if it looks fake it probably is!
  2. Test driving ability before hiring. If you don’t feel safe with the driver, do not hire them.
  3. Do not leave valuables in the car at any time! If you have to travel with laptops and handbags. Keep them out of sight preferably in the boot.
  4. Minimise the use of mobiles and laptops while in traffic, particularly stationary traffic.
  5. Avoid keeping original documents in the car.
  6. Be aware of mileage and fuel cost for your vehicle. Deals have been done at the pump or mechanics to inflate costs and split the difference.
  7. Always insist on receipts for any car expenses, call yourself for a quote before or after any expense to check if your are being charged correctly.
  8. Make sure car is fully registered and insured.
  9. Keep doors and windows locked on car journeys if car does not have automatic door locks.
  10. Do not let the driver take the car home or use the car for personal reasons. This blurs the line between what is appropriate or not. Make this clear at the commencement of employment. Several people have been left stranded by their driver using their car for their own personal use.
  11. Encourage defensive driving strategies, allow room to escape from problems by not driving too close to the car in front.
  12. If stopped by the police, keep quiet! Let the driver handle it, it will cost you a lot less!
  13. Be wary of stopping for any reason on the road, particularly at night. A lot of drivers do not stop at red traffic lights at night for this reason. In the run up to the Christmas season be more alert.
  14. If using a security escort or protection company make sure you obtain by recommendation and referral.

Online

The online scams which emanate from Nigeria are well known, Nigeria is often associated with 419 scams, Yahoo boys, and other online and email scams. Here are some of our online tips >

  1. Protect yourself online by adding anti-viral software such as McAfee Total Protection this will protect up to 10 devices.
  2. Be careful when opening emails make sure you are clear of the source, if in doubt click on the sender email address so you can make sure the email address is the correct email address for the sender.
  3. Never give out your account security information if requested by email, even if the person is presenting themselves as being from your bank. Banks will NEVER request this information online, or by phone.
  4. If you open a ransom link, or receive a ransom email, do not assume you will be exposed or have to pay. If you are online, disconnect from the internet as soon as possible.
  5. Do not leave your laptop on and connected to the internet when not in use.
  6. Online identities are easy to steal, so it is a good idea to use an alias for all your online activity. Unless your name is your brand (in which case you will have monitoring and security in place), it is better to be safe and have some distance between your online profile and your real-life identity. Never put your home address or bank details on websites which are not secure.
  7. Don’t give out too much personal information online about yourself. Don’t announce you are about to travel – means your home  or car is unattended.
  8. Never use the same password on multiple websites.
  9. Keep a separate email address for online registrations, this will separate your need to read emails from spam.
  10. Update your software and apps regularly to benefit from enhanced security features which are added all the time.

> Do you have any more strategies? Tell us below.

Disclaimer

The information provided by LondonGirlinLagos.com is based on information provided or obtained online. LondonGirlinLagos.com does not endorse any services or products advertised. LondonGirlinLagos.com cannot accept any liability for damages directly or indirectly resulting from any services rendered or information given.

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