Editorial comment

2015-11-26 06:00

AS we ease into the holiday season, many of us have to put up with unsolicited calls and messages from companies wanting to sell us anything from funeral covers to zebra-print curtains. After the recent expose on SABC 3 about the R99 debit order scam, a number of people approached the Fever with stories of how they had been swindled out of thousands of rands by companies that quietly debited money from their bank account.

Our lead story this week details how a company has been fraudulently helping itself to Carl Liebenberg’s hard- earned cash for years. Unfortunately, these companies know all the loopholes and chances of the victim ever seeing that money again are slim.

It usually plays out like this - you get a call from some call centre agent wanting to sell you some product or service. You ask where they got your number from and they tell you, “from the credit bureau”. It is after calls like these that you find you are being debited for something you never agreed to.

Not all call centre agencies are crooked, but most of the agents making these “cold calls” work strictly on commission and some of them will even resort to committing fraud to get that sale.

There is seemingly very little you can do to stop them from calling you, but there are some steps you can take to safeguard yourself.

Firstly, make it a habit to regularly check your bank statement for any suspicious debits. Contact your bank immediately if you see anything suspicious. Another thing you can do is to make sure you make those calls as brief as you possibly can. You usually can tell within the first five seconds that it is an unsolicited call and the agent is trying to sell you something.

Kindly decline and end the call. You may come across as being rude, but the longer you stay on the line, the easier it is for unscrupulous agents to splice and edit the recording of the call to make it sound as though you agreed to be debited for whatever they were trying to sell you.

If you have a smartphone, installing the Truecaller app on your phone might offer some relief.

This app is free and as the phone rings, you can see if the phone originates from a call centre and it is up to you whether you want to answer it or if you want to use the app to block it forever.

Stay safe and look after your money.

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