International Fraud Awareness Week takes place from 14-20 November, with the goal of increasing awareness of consumer, corporate and tax fraud, identity theft, and the many other ways in which criminals prey on individuals and organisations.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and a Grant Thornton report, The Next Normal: Preparing for a Post-Pandemic Fraud Landscape, 51% of organisations have discovered more fraud since the onset of the pandemic. Some 71% expect the level of fraud impacting their organisations to increase over the next year.
“The Covid-19 pandemic may have limited the activities of law-abiding citizens, but it appears that many fraudsters are flourishing,” says Shafeeka Anthony, Marketing Manager of personal finance website JustMoney.co.za.
“The best way to limit fraud losses is, of course, to prevent them from happening in the first place. Fraudsters usually need you to provide them with information, so be aware of the warning signs, so that you can stop trust-violators in their tracks.”
Credit fraud is when someone borrows money in your name, or uses your cards to buy goods or services. Typically, you are left with unpaid debt in your name – an issue which may require significant time and effort to resolve. This new debt may also impact your credit score, which is the measure that banks and other lending institutions use to decide whether to loan you money. Your credit score also determines whether you will receive a favourable interest rate.
Anthony offers six tips to help you keep safe:
- Protect personal information. A pleasant-sounding caller who appears to represent your bank or a government agency, and asks to update your details, could be a sophisticated scammer. Do not divulge account numbers, passwords or other information. Also be wary of emails, texts or pop-up messages, which are unlikely to come from legitimate businesses.
2. Set up security. Use tough-to-crack passwords and change them regularly. Install antivirus, firewall and spyware protection on your computer and keep these updated.
- Be careful when shopping. More people have shifted to online shopping since the lockdown began. Do not use internet cafés or communal spaces to shop, and only do business with familiar companies. Signs of a secure, authentic site are a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a website URL that begins with “https:”
- Review monthly statements. Get into the habitof checking your monthly statements so that you can pick up any suspicious entries. If statements are printed, shred or destroy them instead of tossing them in the bin.
- Check your credit score. Keep a regular check on your credit score, as this is one way to discover if loans have been fraudulently taken out in your name.
- Store cards safely: You generally only requireone or two credit and identify cards for daily use. Store the remainder in a secure place.
Act immediately if you think you’ve been scammed, or you’ve lost your cards. Advise your financial institution, report the incident to the police, and ask for a case number. You can also contact the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service on 011 867 2234 or https://www.safps.org.za/.
“Credit fraud is planned, it doesn’t just happen by chance,” concludes Anthony. “You have specifically been selected by the thief.
“People expect criminals to look like the bad guys in an old movie, but they are more likely to be well-spoken and tech-savvy. It pays to inform yourself and be vigilant.”
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