Financial Fraud

19 April 2021

Protect yourself against Financial Fraud in South Africa

South Africa’s weak economy, low employment rates and high wealth inequality provides a strong incentive for financial crime.

Violent crimes such as physical robberies of cash and valuables have decreased, only to be replaced by online fraud. This can be attributed to the rapid growth and evolution of the digital landscape.

The two most common types of bank-related fraud are digital crime and card fraud. This article will focus on digital crime and how to protect yourself from it, but a separate article on card fraud can be found here.

 

Beware of “Phishing”

“Phishing” refers to the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies. These are designed to provoke individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Phishing has become increasingly sophisticated and often uses advanced social engineering tactics to build trust and a sense of authenticity. It has become the most effective way for fraudsters to obtain confidential information that can be used for theft.

A phone call saying that there is a problem with your bank account is an example. To solve the problem, you will need to provide some of your confidential bank information. Of course, this communication would be fraudulent, giving the criminal access to your bank balance from your provided bank information.

Phishing also occurs over email or SMS. Never trust any such emails or messages claiming to be from your bank, and never click on any links sent to you - these will likely direct you to a fraudulent version of your bank’s website that steals your data. 

 

Never Share Confidential Bank Information

Your banks will never ask you for confidential information such as your username, passwords, card numbers, bank account information or pin numbers. If you get a request for any of this information, assume it is fraud and do not reply.

When doing an EFT with someone, you will only need to provide your name, name of your bank, its relevant branch code and your account number. Never share your Pin or any information regarding your bank cards.

 

Phone Your Bank

If you are in any way suspicious of a message, transaction or any other such detail, telephone your bank and ask to confirm its eligibility.

All banks will have a responsive fraud department whose job it is to validate any legitimate message or transaction. In the event that a communication or transaction is fraudulent, your bank will guide you through steps to ensure your safety and privacy.

 

Apps are Safest

Whenever possible, always use your bank’s mobile app. These apps are incredibly secure, as all data transfers are encrypted and customers can use biometrics to login. No reports exist on a banking app being compromised and exposed to fraud.

Additionally, well-designed mobile banking apps will not permanently store any of your data and will have security features that websites might lack, such as multi-factor authentication. The security within smartphone operating systems drastically reduces the chance of compromising software viruses that may be used to steal your information.

Banking aps therefore remain the safest place from which to conduct transactions and manage your money.

 

Never Use Public Wi-Fi

Never access or manage your bank accounts over public WIFI networks. Hackers and fraudsters, who track and monitor any traffic passing through the public network, can get the upper hand. Gaining access to your device over the public network, they can capture and use your confidential usernames, passwords and any other such information.

Instead, use the cellular data on your phone to access your banking app, or create a personal hotspot if you need to access your bank account via your computer. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) activated on your device will protect you in the event you have no choice but to access a public network.

 

Ensure Use of Trusted Payment Gateways

Payment gateways are partners in financial transactions that act as middlemen between a merchant and a bank when you are conducting an online transaction. If you are buying a product or service online via debit or credit card, you will almost certainly be doing so with the help of a payment gateway service.

Common South African examples of legitimate and authorised payment gateways include: PayFast, SnapScan, PayPal, MyGate, Ozow and PayGate.

If you are unsure or suspicious of a payment gateway, simply google “is xyz legitimate?”. If they are fraudulent, a google search will confirm.

 

Summary

Although financial fraud is rife in South Africa, it is relatively easy to protect yourself against scammers and hackers who wish to steal your money and confidential information.

For more information on how ThisIsMe can help protect the safety and security of businesses and individuals, visit our website here.

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