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Protect yourself from scams

 

 

Now more than ever, criminals are finding new and original ways to scam people – online, on the phone and in person.

These criminals are experts at getting you to trust them with your personal information. Their goal is to steal something from you – it could be anything from your money and belongings to your identity. We look at some of these scams and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

 

Car recall scam

 

In November 2020, The Insurance Crime Bureau (ICB) issued a vehicle recall scam alert following a significant increase in the number of cases.

 

How it works:

 

The scammers contact unsuspecting car owners and pretend to be officials representing a car manufacturer. They then try and convince you that your car is part of a batch being recalled because of a serious malfunction and promise to repair or replace the car. After the call, the scammers will often send a follow-up email, asking to collect your car. If you agree, they arrive with a tow-truck and take it away. Many car owners then call the dealership for an update a few days later, only to discover that they have been scammed and their car has been stolen.

 

Tips to protect yourself:

  1. Check with the manufacturer and/or dealership directly to verify that the recall is legitimate. Don’t trust contact details provided by the person who called you.
  2. Limit the amount of personal information you share on social media and telephonically. Criminals use this to build a detailed profile of their victims.
  3. Be vigilant and maintain a healthy sense of scepticism when talking to strangers. Make every effort to verify that they are indeed who they say they are, and that they are an employee of the company they claim to represent.
  4. Report any suspicious calls to the authorities, the manufacturer and/or the dealership.

 

Cyber scams

 

Did you know that since the start of lockdown, there has been a huge increase in cybercrime in South Africa? According to cyber security provider, Kaspersky, devices affected by cyberattacks increased from under 30 000 daily to 310 000 on 18 March 2020. That’s why you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting yourself online.

 

There are many cyber threats to look out for, here are some of the most common ones:

  • Identity theft – criminals get information about you to convince a bank or a customer service representative that they are you.
  • Phishing – criminals attempt to trick you into clicking on a malicious link in an email or an attachment in an email. They do this to steal your login details, which they can then use to gain unauthorised access to your financial accounts.
  • Ransomware – where a hacker encrypts files on your computer. The only way to get the files back is to pay the hacker in crypto currency, like Bitcoin.

 

To help protect you against cybercrime, Budget offers these helpful cyber safety DOs and DON’Ts.

 

Cyber safety DOs:

  • Find out as much as you can about cybercrime and stay up-to-date with the latest scams, so you know exactly what to look out for.
  • Use strong passwords, with a variety of upper-case and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers. Never write them down where other people can see them. You should also try to change them every now and then.
  • Only use reputable online shopping sites. One thing you can do is look at the URL of the website. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is secure. Also check with friends if they’ve heard of it or used it before.
  • Be extra cautious when using Wi-Fi hotspots. Some scammers create false popular hotspots.
  • Back-up the data on your computer, daily.
  • Keep an eye on your monthly statements to identify unusual/unauthorised transactions or behaviours.
  • Use good quality security software and a firewall on your computer and update them regularly.

 

Cyber safety DON’Ts:

  • Don’t click on random links in suspicious emails.
  • Don’t use your social media profiles to log in to other accounts.
  • Don’t reveal too much about yourself on social media, to stay safe from identity theft.
  • Don’t respond to random emails claiming that you have won a prize or inherited money.

 

EFT Payment Scam

 

Another important scam to be aware of is one that involves instant EFT payments. While EFTs are quick, easy and convenient, they’re not always safe. Find out why: https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/online-shoppers-warned-against-making-instant-eft-payments/.