Financial scams are on the rise - What you need to know

By Vernon Pillay Time of article published Jul 23, 2020

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Right now, South Africans are under significant financial pressure and criminals are taking advantage of this desperation.

The public needs to be vigilant to avoid falling prey to these scammers, says Megan Govender, head of Forensic Services at Sanlam.

In order to protect themselves from being fleeced, consumers need to understand how these crooks operate and what personal information needs to be protected better. This will help them identify whether a seemingly legitimate offer is too good to be true.

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WHAT DO SCAMMERS WANT?

Here are the main things a scammer is looking for:

Your Name

Your Surname

Your cell phone number

Your ID

Your address

HOW CAN THEY USE THIS INFORMATION:

Most cybercriminals want to access credit in your name. According to Govender, they try to access credit using the above data.

Another trick is to impersonate you to your insurer or investment company in order to retrieve your funds or benefits.

HOW TO SPOT A SCAM:

Be wary when you see:

An upfront request for advanced payment

Communication containing linguistic and grammatical errors (but not always).

Guaranteed high or quick returns and any get rich schemes or promises.

An email address that does not look right... Remember to be critical!

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

Report your suspicions to a local police station.

Contact the business you think is being impersonated.

WORKING FROM HOME

Working from home increases cybercrime threats to individuals, and companies, according to a number of experts.

With millions of employees forced to work from their homes amid the Covid-19 pandemic, information communication technology specialists have been working hard to combat the increased threat of cybercrime.

Director of sub-Saharan Africa at CM.com James Bayhack warned that criminals have been working overtime to steal companies’ data by targeting vulnerable employees working from home.

He said having employees working from home, without the normal firewalls and cybersecurity measures in place, meant companies and individuals are now at greater risk of having their data compromised.

“IT teams are tasked with the daunting challenge of managing employees’ connectivity during the Covid-19 crisis to ensure productivity and minimal disruption to the business. At the same time, there has been a sharp spike in the number of "phishing" and "smishing" attacks since the outbreak began.

“Every day, Gmail blocks more than 100 million phishing emails. In the first week of April, Google reported 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19. This was in addition to more than 240 million Covid-related daily spam messages,” Bayhack said.

Phishing is still one of the most effective methods that attackers use to compromise accounts and gain access to company data and resources.

“Most online users are aware of phishing emails, which often encourage you to log on to what seems to be an online banking portal or other credit facility. The user enters their login details on the fake portal, after which the scammers use this information to raid the user’s bank account.”

He said cybercriminals have also been employing the growing cyber trend called smishing. This is phishing but in the form of an SMS.

Read More: Cybercrime at home

PERSONAL FINANCE

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