The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS), Reana Steyn, says consumers should be wary of an increase of scams over Black Friday and the holiday period.
Steyn said shoppers should be on the lookout for suspicious activities and/or transactions on their accounts as there is an expectation of higher volumes of phishing, vishing and ATM scams.
Additionally, consumers should regularly go through their account statements in order to identify and immediately report any suspicious entries that they flag as suspicious, she said.
“Desktop research conducted by the OBS has shown that social media platforms, online marketplaces and unsecure websites are being used by criminals to execute a scam where an unsuspecting customer is tricked into paying in advance for goods or services that they will never receive.”
Increase in banking scams
Steyn pointed out that, due to the growing popularity of e-commerce, the OBS has seen an increase of 31.34% in internet banking fraud related cases in 2021. The majority of the people who fall victim to internet banking fraud are those who clicked on unsolicited links which they believed were from their banks, she said.
“Phishing emails are becoming a common way to scam victims. The victim typically receives an email that is supposedly from their bank.
“The email directs the victim to a proxy site to resolve an issue with their account. Once the victim enters their personal details into the site, the fraudsters have access to all the information that they need to commit identity fraud.”
Only after the fraud is committed do they discover that the link that they clicked on was fraudulent, said Steyn.
Other unsuspecting victims were vished into giving away this sensitive information over the phone as they believed that the person that called them was from the bank, she said.
“Again, this is a very sophisticated scheme as the fraudster poses as a bank representative who is helping the consumer resolve an issue on their account – usually an urgent matter to allegedly prevent fraud on their account. Only once the fraud has been committed does the consumer find out that they were being tricked into giving away personal information,” said Steyn.
She added that, subject to final checks, there was a decrease in the number of ATM fraud (which dropped by 15.8%), and credit card related fraud complaints (which dropped by 13.28%) when compared with 2020.
Steyn cautioned that the apparent decrease in card-related fraud cases received by her office should not be seen as a decision by fraudsters to abandon this type of fraud.
She advised that events like Black November, as well as the Festive season and holidays, have previously proven to be fertile breeding grounds for fraudsters to take advantage of consumers who let their guard down.
“Consumers should not fall victim to deals that seem too good to be true. If not identified as scams, these deals will result in consumers suffering devastating financial losses.
“Always be alert to the fact that the criminals of today have become more sophisticated and are experts at convincing people into giving away their confidential banking details or letting their guard down. This can occur online, over the phone, at ATMs or even when swiping their cards at point-of-sale machines.”