Scam alert for SA social media users

Johannesburg - South African social media users should be on high alert for fraudsters out to catch consumers off guard, according to financial service provider, FNB. 

Kovelin Naidoo, chief cyber security officer at FNB, said that although social media scams in South Africa are not as prevalent when compared to users abroad, the reality is that scams do exist. 

“Given that the popularity of social media is set to remain for the coming years, consumers are encouraged to constantly educate themselves about the latest methods that fraudsters use to get hold of their victims’ personal information,” Naidoo said. 

Scams consumers should be wary of: 

Blackmail – never share personal photos or videos on social media that portray you in a compromising position as scammers can use these against you by threatening to send them to close family members or upload them on public platforms.

Phishing - beware of fraudsters pretending to represent your bank on social media platforms. Your bank will never ask for your credit- or cheque card account number, online banking login details or password or One Time PIN (OTP) on social media platforms.

Help and favours - be on high alert when asked for special financial favours or urgent assistance by strangers, no matter how caring or persistent the individuals may seem. Never share your banking details with strangers and think twice before sending money to someone you recently met online or haven’t met in person yet.

Dating and romance scams - consumers who use social media platforms to meet companions or their life partners should look out for fraudsters that play on emotional triggers to scam people out of their hard earned cash. Dating and romance scammers often lower your defences by appealing to your compassionate side in order to take advantage of you.

Identity theft – avoid sharing personal information, such as ID, passport, drivers licence, payslip, bank statement, municipal or account statements on social media. Fraudsters can steal your information and use it illegally by impersonating you.

Money laundering – scammers often trick people through social media platforms by claiming to have large sums of cash that they need to deposit urgently through a foreign bank account.

FNB said that customers should not allow their accounts to be used by another person to deposit or transact on. 

The company said that engaging in such activity could land the account holders in hot water with authorities as allowing proceeds of crime to be laundered through their bank account, knowingly or unknowingly, is a criminal offence.

“When all safety precautions are taken into account, social media remains one of the best platforms that consumers can use to keep up to date with the latest news and trends, interact and catch up with friends and family,” said Naidoo.

In December 2017, Cybersecuity firm Check Point told Fin24 that technology users should prepare for larger, orchestrated worldwide outbreaks as hackers devise new strategies to cash in on human errors. 

The last year saw two massive cyber attacks that cost both South African and global companies millions in damages.

In June Fin24 reported that hackers made less than R26 000 off the massive Petya malware attack, which caused major damage to computers globally, including thousands of South Africans.

The WannaCry virus, which surfaced in May, was seen as the biggest attack of 2017. The virus infected between 400 000 and a million devices worldwide.

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