The banking scams criminals are using to target South Africans right now

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), on behalf of the country’s banking industry, has released new information on the tactics that criminals are using to defraud South Africans as we move into the festive season.

Just as the festive season sees people relax and become more socially active, criminals utilise this opportunity to exploit human psychology by using malicious social engineering tactics to steal personal or confidential information to defraud people, the Sabric said.

It outlined some of the most common scams below.


Phone ‘vishing’

Sabric said it has seen a sharp increase in vishing incidents where criminals phone bank customers, lead them to believe that they are speaking to the bank or a legitimate service provider and use these social engineering tactics to coerce them into disclosing their confidential banking information.

This personal information includes:

  • Identity documents;
  • Driver’s licenses;
  • Passports;
  • Addresses;
  • Full card details including the card security code as well as contact details.

The compromise thereof creates opportunities for criminals to impersonate bank representatives and either take over the victim’s facilities or apply for credit using their credentials fraudulently, Sabric said.

Fake accommodation 

Another scam that criminals are still deploying is to trick people into paying for holiday accommodation that doesn’t exist.

This scam sees criminals preying on people’s anxiety about booking a last-minute holiday. Victims are lured with what seems to be a really good deal, pay for the holiday in full and are then unable to make further arrangements with the agent who has simply disappeared.

ATM scam

Sabric is also cautioning bank clients to be vigilant when withdrawing holiday cash at ATMs.

Criminals continue to attempt to steal bank cards and PINs by interfering with people while they are carrying out a transaction, and Sabric urges bank clients not to accept assistance from anyone, even if they look well-dressed or seem legitimate, it said.

“Interference also goes beyond accepting assistance, as it has been noted that scammers use deceitful tactics like telling people that the ATM machine needs to be programmed or serviced immediately after they have inserted their ATM card.

“Clients must be aware of these tricks and call security if needs be.

“Bank clients are also urged not to carry large amounts of cash, and rather find safer ways to transact such as cell phone banking or internet transfers. Criminals know that people get their bonuses and that stokvels pay out at this time.”


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The banking scams criminals are using to target South Africans right now