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Protect Yourself - Online Fraud Prevention Tips

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Being a victim of online fraud is not an ideal situation to be in. This is why the Ombudsman has advised the South African public to heed the following tips to safeguard their finances against fraud:

  • only shop on legitimate websites. If you are unsure as to the legitimacy of the website, do research on the retailer-don’t rely on the company’s own reviews;
  • always conduct independent checks into the seller prior to making payments, not after; and
  • check the average price of a product and consider if the price is too good to be true. It may probably a scam. “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it probably is a duck. The same applies to a scam. If it looks like a scam and feels like a scam, it probably is a scam,” says Steyn.

To spot and prevent “vishing” fraud:

  • never share personal and confidential information with strangers over the phone no matter how convincingly they try to tell you they are calling from your bank. Visit your nearest bank branch to address the query;
  • “banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information (OTP, CVV or PIN) over the phone,” says Steyn;
  • never give in to pressure. If someone tries to coerce you into giving them sensitive information, hang up and immediately contact your bank’s fraud department to report the incident;
  • stay calm and don’t panic. Call your bank immediately after a suspicious call and verify with them whether there is a real problem on any of your accounts held with the bank;
  • if you receive an OTP on your phone without physically making a transaction, it is likely that it is a fraudster who has accessed your personal information. Do not provide the OTP to anybody. Immediately contact your bank to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised;
  • always be sceptical. Even if your Caller ID gives the name of a bank, or some other company or organisation, it could be a trick;
  • if you lose cell phone connectivity for some time or for no apparent reason receive an SMS for a sim swap or a number port you did not request, immediately contact your bank and then your network service provider.

To prevent phishing fraud:

Fraudulent emails are typically sent to customers to obtain the customer’s confidential internet banking access codes and passwords. Customers are encouraged to pay extra attention to email addresses that may seem genuine, and with what appears to be banking identification.

  • do not click on links or icons in unsolicited emails;
  • do not reply to these emails. Delete them immediately;
  • do not believe the content of unsolicited emails. If you are worried about what is alleged, use your own contact details to contact the sender to confirm;
  • if you need to access your bank’s website, you are advised to type in the entire URL or domain name for your bank on the internet browser;
  • check that you are on the authentic website before entering any personal information;
  • if you think your device might have been compromised, contact your bank immediately and request that your account be blocked;
  • create complicated passwords that are not easy to decipher. Change them often;
  • safeguard your devices. Keep your cell phones and laptop safe and discourage multiple users on your device;
  • secure your networks. Set strong passwords and ensure that the sites you shop on are secure and are the legitimate websites; the padlock on the browser must be locked; and
  • avoid public WIFI connections and internet cafes for your online banking and purchasing

“This is the time of the year for rest, relaxation and restoration. It is time spent with family where good memories are created. Consumers should avoid starting this season off in the worst possible way by becoming victims of fraud,” says Steyn.

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