How to spot banking scams in South Africa

Scams and fraud are extremely prevalent across the Internet, and the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has published an online guide to help users spot scams online.

The guide aims to help users develop good security practices, including avoiding giving their banking details to anyone.

Various scams are targetting users across South Africa, and these can prey on everyone from WhatsApp users to holiday investors.

SABRIC has employed the acronym “SCAM” to describe the variety of threats facing South Africans, using each letter to point out a different warning sign which could mark an offer or request as a scam.

Each of these warning signs is listed below.

S – Seems to good to be true

There is a heavily-circulated aphorism that if someone approaches you with an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

However, many people still forget this adage in the moment they are presented with what looks like a great opportunity.

It can be difficult in these situations to remember to be critical of opportunities and asses the potential risks and vulnerabilities of these offers.

“Listen to your gut when you hear someone promise or offer you something that seems just that little bit too good to be true,” SABRIC states.

Scams which fall under this category include get-rich-quick schemes, 419 scams, holiday scams, and pyramid schemes.


C – Contacted out of the blue

You should always be wary of SMSes, emails, or other messages from unknown numbers, especially if they tell you to click on a link or provide sensitive information.

Many scammers impersonate banks or other companies when sending fake SMSes. These messages often include links to fake websites which trick you into providing scammers with your online banking details.

“Never click on links from unsolicited sources, and never share your confidential information with them either,” SABRIC said.

Scams which fall under this category include smishing and vishing.


A – Asked for banking details

If anyone at any point asks for your personal banking details, you should halt communication immediately.

Banks will never ask for your PIN code, online banking login details, or any other sensitive information.

“It doesn’t matter if he sounds like Morgan Freeman or she can sing like Celine Dion, never give your password details or banking details to anyone over the phone, via SMS or email,” SABRIC said.

This applies to all types of phishing, including vishing, and smishing.


M – Money is requested

Some scammers do not rely on hacking into your bank account themselves. Instead, they trick you into sending them money directly.

A common version of these scams is for scammers to send the victim a message over social media pretending to be a relative and asking for money.

“As for WhatsApp, emails and phone calls, be wary of scammers begging for money while posing as friends or family,” SABRIC said.

These direct attempts at eliciting money from victims are messaging cash send scams, and also comprise fake requests for money via email or other mediums.


Now read: Beware ATM card skimming – Here’s how to spot dodgy ATMs

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How to spot banking scams in South Africa