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The new internet scams to take note of in 2021

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Aug 26, 2021


As many of South Africa’s working population still works from home due to Covid-19, it is now more important than ever to stay safe online.

This is easier said than done. According to a TransUnion report, 37% of South African consumers are aware of a digital fraud attempt related to Covid-19, and 5% fell victim to the attempt.

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Among the targeted individuals, scams related to employment remain the most common (29%), with phishing coming in at a close second at 28%. Third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites were at 24%.

You might think that you won’t ever get caught out but present-day scams are not as easy to spot as before.

These are some of the common internet scams to watch out for.

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Account Takeover

Account takeover is commonly known as online identity theft. This occurs when a hacker steals your credentials, locks you out of your own account and then transfers your hard-earned cash out of your account to theirs. Similar to this is the new account fraud where hackers will use your account details to open new accounts in your name.

Authorised Push Payments

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Authorised Push Payments, more commonly known as bank transfer scams, happen when you transfer money to the wrong destination account.

This is how it works. A hacker gains access to your account. This can be done through something as simple as the hacker learning your email or phone number.

They then present themselves as an organisation you’re already doing business with.

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When you go to make a significant payment, they provide you with fraudulent bank account details, but instead of transferring to the legitimate organisation, you transfer into their account.

Transaction Fraud

Another scam that involves your trust is transaction fraud. After stealing your payment information, hackers use it to make purchases. Transaction fraud usually happens after a phishing attacks where consumers have already given information to the hacker, in the belief that they’re corresponding with a trusted organisation.

These attacks come in the form of emails claiming to be from reputable senders.

Synthetic Identity Fraud

One of the latest and more sophisticated scams is synthetic identity fraud.

Unlike the others that actively steal data, hackers get a bit creative and blend a variety of stolen personal information to create entirely new and fictional people.

For example, instead of stealing your email AND address details, they might only steal your email details, but will supplement the address and account details with those stolen from other people.

With all this information at their fingertips, the hacker will use these details to open an account and use it.

Because the details are genuine, they will manage to pass an organisation’s identity checks but because a fictional name is used, it will be difficult to name a victim.

However, this will still impact you as the use of your details might negatively impact your credit file.


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