Avoid being scammed

2010-11-27 00:00

CRIMINALS have exploited every opportunity to scam residents when it comes to bank card fraud, even to the extent of using social media networks.

FNB’s fraud specialist, Henk Vermeulen, warned consumers that as the festive season draws near, fraudsters will increasingly prey on unsuspecting clients.

He said that fraudsters have started to hack into certain online social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter, with the aim of following each account holder. They send the unsuspecting person a message such as: “Is this you in the video?”, accompanied by a link to a website.

“Once recipients have clicked on the link, they are directed to a fake login page where they are requested to provide a username and password. Once logged into the social media account, fraudsters will copy or change the username and password. Since most people use the same login details for all accounts, fraudsters will have easy access to other accounts,” Vermeulen explained.

He advised consumers to keep “strong passwords” for all their online accounts, by making the passwords long and complex. He added that the use of symbols is also advised.

Needless to say, customers should also avoid suspicious website links.

Card skimming is also another favoured method of scamming consumers at till points or pay points.

Vermeulen said skimming can take the form of the physical card being taken out of sight of the cardholder in order to process the transaction.

“This type of skimming takes place at merchants and the skimming device is handheld. Customers leaving their cards unattended could have their cards skimmed and the customer would be none the wiser as he or she is still in possession of the original card.”

The age-old method of shoulder surfing the customer in order to see his or her password still occurs, according to Vermeulen.

This usually occurs at ATMs.

“They distract customers and obtain the card and skim it, thus the perpetrators now have both customers’ pin number and card detail. This enables them to fabricate their own card and withdraw cash at ATMs while the customers are in possession of their original card. This method is also done by means of a handheld skimming device.”

His tips for Weekend Witness readers are as follows:

• always sign the back of your card;

• don’t write your pin on the back of your card and don’t keep your card and pin together;

• don’t let your card out of your sight — you have the right to be present when your card is being swiped;

• cancel your cards immediately if you will no longer be using them;

• don’t respond to e-mails that require your account number, card number and expiry date; and

• check your bank statements regularly for any unauthorised transactions.

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