IT IS the festive season and for most of us that means holidays, family and fun.
But for scammers, it’s an opportunity to steal money from people while they’re more relaxed and less vigilant.
Kalyani Pillay, CEO of the SA Banking and Risk Information Centre, said: “Criminals are masters of social engineering or emotional manipulation.
“They know how to exploit human thinking to get their way.
“This is especially true over the festive season, when victims let their guard down.
“You may be told that you’ve won a Christmas lottery because you bought something from a retailer or you’re entitled to a year-end lumpsum payment from a financial services provider.
“All you need to do to receive the money is pay a deposit to cover some sort of administration cost. But you don’t have much time left to do it because there’s a deadline. There’s always a sense of increasing urgency to get your details.”
Those are the most exciting scams. The others tend to work on your empathy. There are numerous fake campaigns that exploit your goodwill and ask for charity money.
Alet Griesel, chief risk officer at DirectAxis, said most scams fall into two categories: The first are those that try to get your money directly such as the lucky windfall or appeal for help. The second is those that aim to get your personal or banking details and raid your account when you least expect it.
“Technology such as the internet and cellphones have made banking, paying, shopping and other financial transactions much easier but also provide more opportunities for criminals.”
So-called phishing scams typically use email, SMSes or social media to try and obtain your banking or personal information.
Common banking scams are when the fraudsters send a message that appears to come from your bank or other reputable organisation and ask you to respond or click on a link and provide details such as your pin code or other information to confirm a payment into your account.
Watch out for these scam warnings
Be suspicious of news that you’ve suddenly won or been left a large amount of money, especially if you haven’t entered a lottery or competition, or don’t know the person who’s giving you the money. If it seems too good to be true, it is.
Don’t provide your banking or card information to anyone. Your bank will never contact you requesting your pin number or a one-time password.
Don’t give personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you and who you don’t know. Sometimes scammers pretend to be from government agencies asking you to update personal information.
Don’t click on hyperlinks in an email or SMS, particularly one from an unknown sender. Only bank from a browser page you opened and has the S in https://
Only shop online on reputable websites.
Don’t download software from pop-up windows.
Install anti-virus and update it regularly.