Scammers are always looking for opportunities to defraud people and have already scored hundreds of millions of rands from South Africans.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre's (SABRIC) digital banking crime statistics show that banking app crimes have increased by 19.9%, online banking crime up by 43.8% and mobile banking up by more than 100%.

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According to the report, email hacking, SIM swops and number porting, spyware and SMSishing are some of the most prominent digital banking crimes.

Here's how to make sure you keep safe.

Have multiple email addresses

SABRIC suggests you use different email addresses for different purposes. The centre advises that you use your original email address for personal or business communication as you would do usually and then use an alternative email address to communicate with your service provider(s) – then use yet another email address for registering for websites, newsletters, online shopping and other services. 

In addition to this, it is suggested you use different passwords for each account, passwords that are at least six characters long and are a combination of letters, numbers and capitals/lowercase letters.

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“Fraudsters take advantage of digital technology and platforms to carry out their fraudulent activities. The theft of personal and confidential information by criminals, through various means, enables them to carry out their criminal activities on digital platforms” said SABRIC CEO, Kalyani Pillay.

Don’t click on links from unsolicited emails and SMSes

“Unfortunately, through social engineering and the use of malware/spyware, criminals gain access to their victims personal and confidential banking information. With social engineering, the victim is manipulated into believing that they are communicating with their bank or some reputable company and divulges the information required by the fraudster. Often they are asked to click on links in the communication which loads malware/spyware on the victim’s device,” said Kalyani.

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The centre cautions against confirmatory emails from email addresses that are almost identical or that differ from the genuine email address by perhaps one letter that can be easily missed.

Check your cell phone connectivity

If you lose mobile connectivity under circumstances where you are usually connected, the centre advises to check whether you may have been the victim of an illegal SIM swop. If confirmed, notify your bank immediately.

Regularly verify whether details received from cell phone notifications are correct and according to the recent activity on your account. Contact your bank immediately should any details appear suspicious and report all log-on notifications that are unknown to you.

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Kalyani warns: “Anyone can fall victim to bank-related crimes ... Criminals will strike wherever there are opportunities.”

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