Beware SMS scams during lockdown

The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) has warned South Africans to be vigilant against SMS scams and other malicious digital activities during the lockdown period.

“With 90 million mobile connections and widespread availability of money transfer and digital banking facilities, SA is tremendously attractive to mobile fraudsters,” said WASPA general manager Ilonka Badenhorst.

“People feel comfortable within their own homes and may not be as cautious online as we would ordinarily be within a corporate setting.”

To this end, WASPA has provided the following SMS-related safety advice to South Africans who are looking to stay safe digitally during the lockdown period.

  • Never give out any personal information via SMS or email, regardless of the information the requesting company may already have about you.
  • Delete any suspicious SMSs or emails immediately, as opening spam SMSs or emails may load malware onto your phone, computer or electronic device. This malware can then track your personal information and passwords.
  • If you receive a text message or email from an alleged known source, like your bank or a financial institution, but they are requesting personal or financial information, rather contact their customer support line. Obtain these details from their official website to verify the authenticity of the SMS or email and the associated request.
  • If you receive an SMS that you suspect is fraudulent, a scam, or spam, visit the WASPA website and report the originating number and SMS contents to WASPA here.

Other security tips

WASPA also suggested the following measures be taken by South Africans to protect themselves from online attackers.

  • Ensure your anti-virus and anti-malware programmes are always up to date and run scans on your phone, computer or electronic devices daily.
  • Keep your software updated and uninstall any apps you are no longer using.
  • Only download apps from official app stores – don’t download apps from unverified third party sites.

“Information is power and never has this been more true than during humanity’s current battle against the coronavirus,” said Badenhorst.

“As always, our best weapon online and in the changing bricks and mortar world is our own common sense.”

Now read: How South African networks fight battery thieves – Photos

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Beware SMS scams during lockdown