Financial services group Capitec has warned that voice phishing, also known as vishing, is becoming an increasingly common banking scam in South Africa.
The bank said that fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated and some criminals even play music and call centre sounds to make it seem like it’s the bank on the phone.
Jimmy Sounes, head of forensic services at Capitec, said vishing is currently an industry-wide issue.
“Social engineering sees fraudsters convince a target to share their information, by gaining their trust. For example, the criminal might read you your account number or ask you if you still have a debit order for a certain store. They’ll know something personal about you.”
Then, they shock you by telling you something is wrong, he said. “They pretend to be your bank’s forensic department. They may say there’s a big fraud on your account that you need to stop.
“Or that there’s a massive $10,000 debit order from overseas about to go off. Their aim is to make you panic and share your personal details over the phone. They might even ask you to make transactions or add beneficiaries to your account.”
Sounes said criminals ramp up the pressure to ‘trap’ their target into doing strange things they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances.
“They’re extremely convincing. A big problem is people tend to underestimate how believable the fraudsters can be. It’s a structured operation run like a business.”
How to spot a scam
A bank will never ask you for your personal information over the phone. He added that no bank will ever call you to ask for information like your PIN or login details, or to approve transactions telephonically.
Sounes said that financial literacy plays a big part in helping people to spot a scam. “As part of our ongoing effort to help people live better, we prioritise financial education to equip South Africans not to fall for fraud.
“We want people to get into the habit of never sharing their personal information with anyone. You wouldn’t give your house keys to a stranger, for example, so why would you share your pin?”
Sounes suggests immediately reporting fraud to the bank.
“Even if you don’t fall victim to the attempt, please consider contacting your bank so they can double-check your account is secure. Their forensics team will also attempt to investigate the number that contacted you. All banks have a 24/7 fraud hotline you can call.”
He added that people need to be constantly aware. “Criminals do not take a day off, so people must be aware at all times. It is critical to keep up to date with the latest scams and share the information with your loved ones, so they are less vulnerable as well.”