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No, Tala and Branch databases not hacked in Kenya to clear loan defaulter names

Mobile loans are on the rise in Kenya, according to a 2019 report by Kenya’s central bank. Two of the biggest lenders are Tala and Branch International.

A screenshot of what seems to be a Facebook post by Citizen TV claims the databases of the two companies has been hacked.

With the tag “breaking news”, it says a Multimedia University student was responsible for the hack.

“A student from MMU Joel alias ‘Lilac Flame’ taking IT has hacked Tala and Branch databases clearing all the loan defaulters also deleting their phone numbers,” the text reads.

The image was shared on a Kenyan Facebook group page with over 1 million members and has so far attracted 2,600 reactions, over 1,100 comments and 142 shares.

Other Facebook users shared it on their timelines praising the man for “saving other millions youths out there who have no jobs”.

‘The claims of the breach are false’

But Citizen TV has warned about this and other false posts using its logo.

“Our attention has been drawn to a series of fake and misleading social media posts made by accounts purporting to belong to Citizen TV,” it posted on Twitter. “Ignore them and note that all our social media accounts are verified.”

Africa Check asked Fiona Njagi, a senior marketing associate at Branch International, about the reported hack.

“The claims of the breach are false,” she said.

“Data protection and privacy are paramount for our business and something we care deeply about. Branch uses world-class data security and encryption techniques to protect our customer’s data,” she added.

“We use the smartphone to determine loan options. That data is then encrypted and protected. Branch never shares our customers’ data or information with third parties unless it is for dedicated business purposes, such as reporting defaulted loans to authorised credit bureaus.”

We also reached out to Natasha LaBranche, a senior communications manager at Tala.

She said the company’s accounts had not been hacked and customers could be confident their data was safe.

“This is fake. Tala was not hacked. Our customers' data remains safe and secure,” LaBranche told Africa Check. – Dancan Bwire (21/05/2019)


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