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WhatsApp scams: How to be more vigilant this tax season

The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken on September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Published Jul 8, 2022

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Johannesburg: As tax season for 2022 commences, banks, the police, and the South African Revenue Service have urged taxpayers to exercise vigilance amid a barrage of scams targeting unwilling victims.

Sars has warned that each year, scams do the rounds on WhatsApp and via SMSes.

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Taxpayers are urged to protect their personal information, as many fraudsters have posed as agents for the revenue service by approaching victims on WhatsApp or SMS.

“The fraudsters may use your personal information in such a way that can result in you having increased tax liabilities to Sars, and you can even become the subject of a criminal investigation. You have to be vigilant at all times and protect your personal information from falling into the hands of fraudsters,” the revenue service warned.

SARS said personal information that fell into the wrong hands could have even more drastic implications, as fraudsters were seeking ID numbers, contact numbers, email addresses, income tax numbers, VAT numbers and other Sars-related information.

“The information you provide to the fraudsters may also be used to register you as a taxpayer with Sars through which false tax returns are submitted to generate refunds from Sars which will impact, often to your disadvantage, your tax status,” Sars said.

The revenue service also warned that fraudsters could use your information for other financial transactions such as obtaining loans or buying items on credit – for which you would be held liable.

Recently, the SAPS also warned users to be vigilant of another WhatsApp scam aimed at hijacking WhatsApp accounts.

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“Scammers are hijacking people’s WhatsApp accounts. There are constantly new scams. Always be sceptical and never share personal information with anyone,” the police said.

It warned that the scam works by receiving an SMS from an unknown person, claiming that they sent you a six-digit code by mistake.

“They will ask you to share that code as a matter of urgency. If you received an SMS with a six-digit code, you should not share that code with anyone. If you send that code to a scammer, they can log into your WhatsApp account,” the police said.

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Tips to keep your WhatsApp account secure:

– Keep your WhatsApp account safe.

– Enable two-step authentication on your WhatsApp account.

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– Tap on the contact that sent you the message and check your affiliation with that person if it is a number you don’t recognise.

– You should also block the number so they cannot contact you again.

– Report the number to WhatsApp to have that account suspended.

IOL Tech

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