Tread carefully when shopping online: If a deal looks too good to be true, it could be a scam.
Tread carefully when shopping online: If a deal looks too good to be true, it could be a scam.

Don’t be caught out by these 5 common online scams

By Lorna Charles Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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Durban - As South Africans try to stay safe during the lockdown by using online forms of payments many con artists are using the opportunity to scam people out of their hard-earned money.

Piet Swanepoel, the chief risk officer (CRO) at African Bank, said scammers have noticed that much more work and business transactions are being conducted almost exclusively online these days.

“These cybercriminals have updated their fraudulent online tactics to cash-in on the pandemic. The scams can take various forms, each designed to target unsuspecting online users,” he said.

Swanepoel cited five of the most common tactics which are used to catch people out:

– Fake calls and texts: Scammers create fake texts, which mimic the look and feel of legitimate institutions, to trick one into sharing valuable personal information like bank account details, ID numbers, passwords etc.

– Email scams: Email scams that trick one into opening malicious attachments or clicking on links that allow scammers to steal your passwords, ID numbers, and bank details.

– Donation scams: There have been reports of thieves taking money from consumers by claiming they are collecting money for charities or NGOs.

– Fraudulent online loan sharks: Illegal money lenders are preying on people’s financial hardships, charging exorbitant interest rates for loans.

– Fake vouchers and refunds: Scammers are offering fake vouchers for groceries or refunds on bank transactions, just to get unsuspecting South Africans to share their personal information.

He said these were just a few of the examples of how scammers take advantage of the difficult time the world is going through but are the most common to look out for.

He added it was imperative to learn how to protect oneself from being a victim of these scams.

“You should never click on any unfamiliar or suspicious links, or comply with requests for sensitive/private information, unless you are 100% sure you can trust the source,” he said.

Being aware of disinformation campaigns and hoaxes, particularly on social media is also important so you can spot the hoaxes when they cross your path.

Swanepoel said a strong and unique password for each critical site was key.

“We recommend you use multi-factor authentication wherever possible. This means combining your username and password with something that you own, such as a One Time Password app on your phone.”

He advised basic security features such as operating systems, plug-ins and anti-virus software should be updated and applying security patches when necessary.

Swanepoel recommended people working from home secure their home wi-fi with a virtual private network (VPN) which provided a secure tunnel for all your internet traffic, preventing criminals from intercepting your data.

The Mercury

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