Finances – Protecting yourself against fraudsters

Has your mobile phone ever rung, and you see an international number you don’t recognise flashing on the screen? Chances are it was a scam attempt with the intention of collecting personal financial details from you. Whether it’s by email, phone or social media, fraudsters have found ways to gain access to personal information, which can be detrimental to your finances.

Below we explore some of the tactics that have been used, and what you can do if ever you find yourself in a similar situation.

  1. Be wary of voice phishing 

Voice phishing or “vishing” are calls made from someone usually claiming to be from your bank or a reputable company who wants you to divulge personal information about yourself or your account. Some calls may be automated. The intent is to get you to divulge your account details by claiming that they need to verify suspicious activities on your account, or they need to make a refund to your account.

What you should do

Your bank will likely never attempt to contact you and ask for personal account details over the phone. Put the phone down when they ask for your payment or bank account details. Don’t share this information over the phone. If you accidentally share your details, call your bank immediately. If you are unsure of the authenticity of the call, contact your bank to confirm that the caller is an affiliate of their institution.

  1. Look out for phishing emails 

Phishing emails usually come from what looks like a genuine email from a reputable person or company claiming that you have won something. The email will ask you to click a link for further information, or to claim your prize. You’ll most likely be asked to download something – typically, this will be malicious software (malware) masquerading as something, which will allow fraudsters to access your details, and access to your financial information.

What you should do

Unless you actually participated in a lottery, it will be quite unlikely that you will suddenly be a winner of a big international lottery iprize. You should always be sceptical about suspicious emails. Always check the sender’s email address. Some email addresses appear to have the same domain names as those you are familiar with in your contact list. Always double check for small inconsistencies in email addresses. Block the sender and delete the email straight away. Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are up to date, and your firewall is strong. Do not click on links or download attachments. Schedule frequent scans on your computer.

3. How to spot smishing messages

As silly as it may sound, smishing is a real threat. Think back: have you ever received a text message from a number you didn’t recognise with a link, or asking you to call a number you don’t know? That’s smishing text messages!

What you should do

Don’t click on any links, and check any numbers with your bank. If the number isn’t genuine, delete the text message from your phone.

4. Protect yourself on social media 

How many times this year has a friend posted on their facebook wall that so and so’s facebook has been hacked or duplicated and asking you not to accept any new friend request under their name? Fraudsters have been known to hack social media accounts and impersonate the account owners. Once in, they make contact with the owner’s friends and family, and convince them to part with their money or bank details by pulling on their heartstrings. You could be contacted by someone you know, who suddenly and desperately needs money, asking you to transfer money to an account, or to share your bank details with them. Sound familiar?

 What you should do

If it is someone you know personally, speak to that person directly to see if their request is genuine, as the message could be coming from a hacked account. If it’s from someone you do not know, report the incident to the social media mediators. To prevent your account from getting hacked, avoid clicking on facebook links you are not familiar with, especially those prompting you to log in. Change your password frequently. Activate double security for your facebook account.

When it comes to fraud protection, remember prevention is always better than cure. Always check before you share.


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