01 July 2021
Members of the public are increasingly falling victim to fraudulent phone calls from scammers, conning unsuspecting individuals into handing over their confidential banking information.
Known as Vishing, fraudulent phone calls is a growing problem in South Africa and one which has led Al Baraka Bank's Senior Manager: Electronic and Transactional Banking, Mrs Aasiya Jamal, to appeal to clients and members of the public not to provide personal banking information to anyone who makes telephone contact.
"Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly brazen and convincing in terms of preying on, especially, vulnerable and uninformed members of society, gaining their personal information and then exploiting that information to either steal identities or gain access to the finances of individuals," she said.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre's (SABRIC) Banking Ombudsman, Ms Reana Steyn, has reported that the organisation continues receiving complaints on a daily basis from consumers who have been deceived.
Mrs Jamal said that anyone can be a target of fraudsters and appealed to the broad public to guard against becoming victims.
"Al Baraka Bank urges its clients and the public at large to take extra care when receiving phone calls in which callers purport to represent a bank and ask for personal information. Do not provide any information and contact your bank immediately to report such calls. The alarming prevalence of fraudulent phone calls coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen bank clients become more dependent on online purchases and banking transactions, instead of conducting physical transactions. Cyber criminals, who sound very convincing and professional, are using the changed habits of the public to cash in on, especially, those who may be somewhat unfamiliar with online shopping and banking so as to gain access to personal information," Mrs Jamal stressed.
"No matter how believable an email communication - known as phishing - or a caller on the phone - vishing - may appear, never click on a button to confirm your bank details or provide your information verbally. Remember, a bank will never ask for your personal information over the phone and legitimate organisations will not ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money," she said.
Mrs Jamal said that common scams and cyber threats include being conned into being a money mule, or through card fraud, malware and ransomware. A popular ruse currently is a caller claiming to represent a bank's fraud department and requiring personal banking details to stop a fraudulent transaction.
"Fraudsters will try to rush you into acting quickly. Never let any caller or email content pressure you into a reaction," she warned.
"No matter their 'pitch', do not fall for the claims of callers, because if you provide your information the caller will then institute his or her own fraudulent transaction, with you becoming the victim. In addition, always be hyper-vigilant when using ATMs to transact. Be aware of people around you, don't let them distract you and never let anyone 'assist' you. Equally, when paying for goods in a store, never hand over your bank card to anybody or let it out of your sight. Activate 'contactless' on your card, so avoiding the need to enter your PIN at a till-point. Look out for spelling errors and poor use of grammar in emails and never use cyber cafes for banking or other confidential business," Mrs Jamal said.
Many banks offer free notifications for transactions and Mrs Jamal advised clients to activate the notification intervention so as to receive SMS messages every time a transaction occurs, adding: "This is a good way to keep track of transactions - especially of notifications received when you have not been transacting yourself."
"Do not allow yourself to become a victim of cyber crime by ensuring that you take every possible measure to safeguard your banking or shopping transactions and never provide your personal information to anyone who contacts you on the phone, via email or via social media platforms," Mrs Jamal emphasised.