Beware online holiday booking scams in South Africa

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has warned South Africans to be wary of online scammers targeting holiday planners.

“As we near the end of the year and plan our holiday away, we ask that people be careful about booking holidays advertised online,” SABRIC CEO Nischal Mewalall stated.

Mewallal explained that scammers set up bogus websites purporting to offer holiday accommodation and even flight tickets.

“Because the website has beautiful pictures and looks professional and the price appears to be cheap, people are enticed and make a purchase using their credit card details, thinking they are buying from a legitimate organisation,” Mewallal said.

“The purchase goes through but the victim never receives the goods as the website was fake.”

In addition, Mewallal said the criminals would then also have access to a user’s bank details and can then use this fraudulently to steal the victim’s money and identity.

“SABRIC urges people not to be enticed by these offers. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Mewallal cautioned.

He further advised those booking accommodation on legitimate sites online to register for 3D Secure to provide an additional security layer for online credit and debit card transactions.

Protect your phone

SABRIC said it had also observed an increase in mobile phone snatching fraud in recent months.

Mewallal explained criminals stealing phones were using the devices to gain access to the victim’s personal and confidential information, which can then be used to commit crime.

“We therefore urge people to be vigilant and not transact on their phone in a public location where they are at risk of having their mobile phone snatched,” Mewalall said.

“Pickpocketing is also prevalent so ensure that your handbag or and backpacks are properly closed or zipped,” Mewalall added.

He encouraged victims who lose or have their phones stolen to notify their bank immediately to freeze their banking profile.

This will prevent the perpetrators from using the banking app to access your account.

“In addition, contact your mobile service provider to block/stop your SIM card and handset to prevent criminals from getting any One Time PINs for fraudulent transactions,” Mewalall advised.

Now read: FNB mistakenly blocks company’s online payments for suspected fraud

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Beware online holiday booking scams in South Africa