Massive increase in SIM-swop fraud in South Africa

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has released its inaugural digital banking crime statistics report.

The report looks at digital technology and how it is exploited by criminals.

SABRIC found that in 2017, 13,438 incidents were recorded across banking apps, online banking, and mobile banking – costing the industry more than R250 million in gross losses.

“While incidents from January to August 2018 already show a 64% increase, we are pleased that the increase in gross losses is just 7% when compared to the same period in 2017,” said SABRIC.

When comparing January to August 2017 to the same period in 2018, mobile banking incidents showed an increase of 100%, with gross losses of R23 million.

“Online banking incidents showed an increase of 44% with gross losses of R89 million. For the same period, banking app incidents increased by 20%, with gross losses of R70 million.”

SIM-swop fraud

A worrying figure from the report was the massive increase in SIM-swop incidents in South Africa.

SABRIC stated that from January to August 2017, 4,040 SIM-swop incidents were reported.

This is compared to 8,254 incidents from January to August 2018 – an increase of 104%.

“In most cases, clients are still compromised because of phishing, vishing, or the installation of malware onto a victim’s device by having them click on a link, enabling the criminal to steal sufficient personal information to access their online banking profile,” said SABRIC.

SIM-swop fraud is well documented in South Africa, and has seen individuals lose hundreds of thousands of rand in the space of a few hours after their bank accounts are targeted and accessed in combination with access to their cellphone number.

How to stop SIM-swop fraud

SABRIC said South Africans must look out for the following to avoid falling victim to a SIM-swop attack.

  • If reception on your cellphone is lost, immediately check what the problem could be.
  • Inform your bank should your cellphone number change.
  • Memorise your PIN and passwords, never write them down or share them.
  • If you think your PIN and/or password has been compromised, change it immediately either online or at your nearest branch.

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Massive increase in SIM-swop fraud in South Africa