How to keep your money safe from criminals this festive season

Criminals know that many people get their bonuses and that stokvels pay out at this time. Here’s how to keep your money safe from scammers.

Banking/banks/passwords, PIN numbers. Picture:

CAPE TOWN – The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned people about scams as the holiday season approaches.

Criminals know many people will be relaxing over this period and often use it to their advantage, Sabric said.

Susan Potgieter, Sabric acting CEO, explained: “Sabric encourages people to empower themselves by sharing information selectively, and on a need-to-know basis only. This is why we are adding the hashtag label #NotSaying to all our messaging, to remind people to not just share any personal information without careful consideration when prompted to do so.”

Here are six things to look out for and how to protect yourself:

1 - Fake bank calls. Sabric has seen a sharp increase in vishing incidents. This is when criminals phone bank customers, leading them to believe that they are speaking to the bank or a legitimate service provider. They often force clients to share confidential information.

Criminals can also mask their telephone numbers so they appear to be calling from a bank. Sabric has warned against sharing personal or confidential information over the phone, saying that banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone.

Criminals can use your personal information, like identity documents, driver’s licenses, passports, addresses, to impersonate you and take over your credit facilities or apply for credit.

If you think your information has been used, call or visit your local bank immediately.

2 - Holiday accommodation scam. If the offer is too good to be true it probably is, Sabric has warned. Holidaymakers have been advised to not trust websites they don’t know.

You should also avoid sending emails that quote your card number and expiry date. If you are requested to confirm your banking or personal details via a link, don’t click on it.

3 - ATM “helpers”. Banking clients are urged to be vigilant when withdrawing holiday cash at ATMs. Sabric has urged people not to accept assistance from anyone, even if they look well-dressed or seem legitimate.

Some scammers are now using deceitful tactics like telling people that the ATM machine needs to be programmed or serviced immediately after they have inserted their ATM card. Banking clients have been urged to call security if this happens.

4 - Stokvel group safety. Criminals know that many people will receive payouts from their stokvel. Members have been cautioned about making cash deposits of club members’ contributions on high-risk days, like Monday after month-end.

Groups are urged to arrange for the club’s payout to be electronically transferred into each club member’s personal account or accounts of their choice.

If a cash deposit is going to be made, always ensure that the person depositing club cash contributions or making withdrawals is accompanied by another club member.

5 - Online shopping alert. Be aware that the ‘s’ in the ‘https’ no longer guarantees that a website is secure. Shoppers are urged to register for 3D Secure to secure their card details.

You should protect your personal details and not share your ID number or date of birth as online merchants don’t need it for your order.

Check your bank balance after making any shopping payment and report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.

6 - Protect personal information. Refrain from carrying personal information in your wallet or purse. Sabric has urged people not to write down PINs and passwords and avoid obvious choices like birth dates and first names.

Banking clients should also avoid using internet cafes or unsecured terminals (hotels, conference centres etc.) to do any transactions.