We spoke to the SAFPS (Southern African Fraud Prevention Service) and according to them, scam artists use a plethora of crafty methods and clever tactics to gain access to people’s personal information. “It is extremely difficult to determine exactly where, when and how a person’s identity gets compromised... and it seems like they keep coming up with new ideas every day,” says a member of the SAFPS. So to avoid falling prey to these ruthless con artists, you should keep the following in mind.
Be wary of emails and messages encouraging you to:
- Help the less fortunate
They pull at our heartstrings and ask us to donate our money to the underprivileged by depositing money into an account. Before you do so, make sure the organisation is legitimate. Do your research.
- Buy expensive items for relatively cheap
Unless it’s from a reliable site, don’t click on it, don’t fall for it. If it's too good to be true, it is exactly that.
- Do the ‘free’ trial
These services usually require you to give your bank details for ‘verification reasons’. Once the free trial expires they’ll start charging you for a monthly subscription – which is often non-refundable.
- Watch out for emails congratulating you on winning money
You’ve received a SMS saying that your number just won R1 million - it’s not real and it’s not that simple. You haven’t won anything… Never reply to these messages, as they can take airtime from you either monthly or weekly. Unless you’ve entered a competition from a particular site you are being tricked. You will never, ever win money for simply having an email address.
READ: 3 ways to protect yourself from online scams
How to avoid them:
- Don’t click on hyperlinks in emails, unless you’ve signed up for it. Delete unsolicited emails - don’t even open them.
- Watch out for spelling and grammatical errors in the message.
- Avoid emails or websites with too many pop-up ads. Clicking on them can spell disaster.
- Always ensure that you are logged into a secure site – the website URL prefix must have an s at the end, i.e. it should appear as https://www.
- Never make a big purchase like an apartment or computer without seeing it first. It could be a scam.
- Download unroll.me on your phone. This app clears all junk mail and combines all your subscription mails into one ‘rollup’.
SAFPS provides a free ID protection service to those who have lost their ID book due to theft or negligence, as well as victims of ID fraud. The innocent person’s ID number is filed onto the Shamwari Database to protect individuals from being subjected to future fraud attempts. Members will receive an alert when an ID match is found on the SAFPS database, which enables them to take extra precautions to prevent impersonators/fraudsters from using the victim’s ID.
If your ID book is lost or stolen, or you discover that you have become a victim of identity theft and fraud, visit SAFPS or call their helpline, 0860 101 248.
Have you ever been involved or experienced internet scamming? Let us know.