FNB warns of new online scams targeting customers

As more businesses get accustomed to transacting or conducting business online, there has been a proportionate increase in eCommerce scams, warns financial services company FNB.

These types of scams often involve a business-to-business (B2B) operator, manufacturer or supplier claiming to provide lucrative goods and services at competitive or massively discounted prices, luring businesses to pay upfront, with no intention to deliver, said Roshan Jelal of FNB Commercial Risk.

“As much as digitisation drives efficiencies and streamlines processes, digitisation also presents massive opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit online retailers, businesses and shoppers who are not vigilant to these threats.

“Businesses are urged to invest in preventative measures to protect themselves by ensuring that they have conducted the necessary checks prior to paying for goods and services.”

Payment should only be made once there is a certainty that the business is dealing with a reputable supplier, Jelal said.

“Furthermore, when engaging with eCommerce cybercriminals, the business may expose its bank card details, sensitive personal information and email which can potentially expose it to future risk.”

Jelal advises businesses to consider these prior checks when dealing with new suppliers/businesses online:

  • Always take time to conduct thorough independent verification and research into the supplier/another party.
  • Popular products and services sold at attractive / significantly cheaper prices should raise alarm bells.
  • Obtain references/reviews from organisations that have previously conducted business with these suppliers.
  • Check complaints forums such as Hellopeter or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for negative posts relating to the supplier. Moreover, test whether the company has a Linkedin profile that may include information on associated staff members.
  • It may be prudent to use search engines such as Google Maps or Street View to test the legitimacy of a supplier’s physical address. B2B scammers are often not based at a physical location.
  • Verify the supplier phone number(s) and email address(es). It may also be worthwhile checking whether the supplier URL accords with the email address.
  • It is advisable, especially for once-off payments, to use the Verify Owner tab on FNB Online Banking to ensure the supplier name accords with the account number provided. Customers who suspect fraud should contact the bank immediately.

“Banks have developed and deployed measures to monitor transactions and behavioural models to identify spurious transactions proactively and will continue to innovate in terms of changing modus operandi.

“However, these measures and models will be more effective if businesses remain alert, protect, and continuously educate themselves given the constantly evolving fraud landscape,” said Jelal.


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FNB warns of new online scams targeting customers