Phishing Scams in South Africa: Don’t Take the Bait

Phishing scams in South Africa occur almost every day, which means you could be just a click away from losing lots of hard-earned money.  It’s been reported that we are in the top five most targeted countries in the world. While some attempts at conning you out of your cash are reasonably obvious (remember that message about you inheriting a portion of a foreign prince’s fortune?), others are carefully crafted calls to action designed to deceive you. So, it’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to suspicious emails from your bank.

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What are phishing scams?

Phishing is a means of online fraud that sees cybercriminals sending out emails claiming to be from a legitimate company or financial organisation in an attempt to steal your personal information. They then use your data to pinch your identity and even money from your bank account.

When it comes to bank phishing scams, you will receive an email “from your bank” that contains a link to a fake website. This site will look like an exact duplicate of your bank’s page and will prompt you to “update your information.” Fraudsters will then be in possession of your username, password, ID number and other confidential info. Needless to say, the criminals will have unrestricted access to your bank account.

Thankfully, because these emails are technically spam, they often get filtered into your Junk Folder, which should automatically make you question its legitimacy.

However, there has been an increase in “spear phishing”, which is a more targeted scam that seems to be customised to appeal to an individual’s interest. What makes this particularly dangerous is that it can bypass some anti-virus defences.

Protect yourself against phishing scams in South Africa with these handy prevention tips:

  • Your bank will NEVER send you an email asking you to update your info. All South African banks are pretty clear on this.
  • Your bank’s website should have examples of bogus emails, so check it out if you are uncertain about the message you received.
  • Do not click on any link in an email that suggests it will take you to your bank’s website.
  • Make sure you use the web address (URL) you were given when you signed up for internet banking.
  • Type your bank’s URL directly into your browser and look out for the “lock” icon (this means the site is secure).
  • Never log onto your internet banking in an internet café or where multiple people might be on the network.
  • Update your anti-virus software regularly.

Remember- unsolicited correspondence from your bank is always fishy, and if you commit the pointers as mentioned earlier to memory, you won’t easily become a victim of phishing scams in South Africa.

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