Whether South Africans know it or not, cyber crime is on the increase. According to the 2013 Norton Report, South Africa has the third highest number of cyber crime victims worldwide.The report also revealed that approximately 12 people fall victim to cyber crimes every second, there are one million victims daily and 378 million cases of cyber crime per year, costing countries billions of rands.Scamsters around the world have upped their game and do not even have to leave the comfort of their homes to get at you from across the globe.More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that know no borders, either physical or virtual, and cause serious harm to victims worldwide.Once hackers have access to your online accounts they can steal money from your bank accounts, post inappropriate pictures on your social networks, and even change your passwords and shut you out of your own accounts.Hackers can also access your computer by sending you an e-mail that automatically causes malware software to download as you open the mail. The hacker then has full access to your computer and the data in it and can lock you out.The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), a non-profit organisation focusing on industry efforts to combat bank-related crimes, encourages people to immediately delete suspicious e-mails from unknown sources without opening them.CEO of Sabric, Kalyani Pillay, said: “If the criminal manages to get your personal information they can perform transactions up to the limits set by that bank customer.” This is why it is important for customers to protect their login information.Pillay said that banks are constantly enhancing their platforms and products to ensure their customers are not easily duped by criminals and to mitigate against the risk of cyber crime. She said it is important that consumers avoid compromising their cyber security.She explained that managing and protecting one’s electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets and PCs is crucial in order to reduce the risk of cyber crime.“While banks continuously provide cyber security messages and advice, criminals are also devising new ways to steal from customers.“As more bank consumers migrate to online banking platforms, the risk of smartphones and hand-held devices being compromised has also amplified.“Consumers need to ensure that anti-virus software is downloaded onto their smart devices as well as their PCs before they access their online banking profiles.”Technology like apps and Wi-Fi hotspots, which help to make banking easy for the public, do carry risks.Sabric also stressed the importance of tightening security features on all social media sites to make it difficult for criminals to steal your information.South Africa currently does not have direct laws against cyber crimes but the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill is set to be introduced in Parliament before the end of this year.• Do not disclose personal information such as passwords and pins via telephone, fax or e-mail.• Ensure no one sees you entering your cellphone banking password on the phone.• Do not reply to suspicious texts or click on unverified links. Call your bank to verify authenticity of messages allegedly emanating from the bank.• Have different passwords for different accounts, sites and programs that may store sensitive information.• Make sure all your accounts have strong passwords that are not easy to decipher.• Avoid carrying unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse.• Be selective about the type of information you share on social media sites and use strict privacy settings.• Do not get taken in by scammers who send messages that you have won a prize, or inherited money.• Do not use Internet cafes or unsecured terminals at hotels and conference centres to do your banking.• Secure your smartphone by enabling the lock screen and security function, be it a pattern password or fingerprint screen lock.• Don’t save sensitive personal information and bank account details on your electronic devices.• Always set the privacy settings on your social media profile to the highest level possible.• To prevent your ID being used to commit fraud, if it is ever lost or stolen, you should alert the SAFPS on 0860 101 248.