Beware these online fraud schemes in South Africa

 ·22 May 2022

A survey conducted by consumer credit reporting agency TransUnion highlights the continued potential danger of becoming a potential target for online fraudsters.

The group’s Consumer Pulse study for the fourth quarter of 2021 showed that 45% of respondents were targets of a fraudulent digital scheme over the last three months of the year, with as many as 8% falling victim to online fraud.

The online survey of 1,050 adults in South Africa was conducted between 8–17 February. It found that 80% of consumers said they’re making changes to their purchasing behaviour because of rising inflation.

Although 88% of consumers considered access to credit and lending products important to achieve their financial goals, only 32% believed they currently have sufficient access to them. Despite the lack of adequate access, 67% of consumers indicated they had no plans to apply for new or refinance existing credit.

For consumers who considered applying for new or refinancing existing credit, 42% stated they ultimately decided against it; fear of being declined due to income and employment status (31%), and the cost of new credit or refinancing being too high (30%) were the top two cited reasons.

Fraudsters can get your credit card information in a number of ways. With so many of us shopping for products and services online, fraudsters have channeled their efforts there as well. Hackers may be able to get your information from a data breach at a company you do business with.

Phishing is another route. Fraudsters may try to spoof a website, making you think you’re interacting with a trusted business, and trick you into giving away your credit card information.

What are common uses of stolen credit card information?

So what do fraudsters do with stolen credit card information? It’s valuable data, so many sell it to someone else. If they do use it for themselves, they may buy anything from physical, luxury items and electronics, to online goods like video game credits and business services, said TransUnion.

Gift cards are a popular choice. They’re mostly anonymous, typically not requiring a name or other personal information to redeem, and can be used similar to cash in stores and online. Fraudsters may use the gift cards to buy goods or try to flip the card and sell it online at a discount.

A cell phone subscription is another common purchase with stolen credit card information. According to TransUnion’s March analysis of online fraud trends, credit card fraud was the top type of digital fraud for the telecommunications industry globally from March 11, 2020 to March 10, 2021.

The same analysis found that credit card fraud was the top online scam worldwide in the travel and leisure industry during that period, as well.

Of consumers in South Africa aware of a digital fraud attempt targeted at them, 41% said it was from money/gift card scams, and 31% stated third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites.

Consumer concern about sharing personal information stands very high at 87%. The primary reasons cited for their concern were fear of identity theft (76%) and personal invasion of privacy (73%).

Read: New e-cigarette and vaping rules planned for South Africa

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