Cybercrime is a huge issue on both sides of the equator.
New data from South Africa reveals that 70% of S. Africans having fallen victim to cybercrime and other risky behaviour (compared to the 50% global average) and 47% of South African smartphone users experiencing mobile cybercrime in the last year (compared to 38% globally.) Legislation is being tightened up but South Africa still ranks in the top three nations for cybercrime.
If you are a victim of cybercrime then you stand to lose money paying fake fees for services that will never be provided or losing bank balances and savings to unauthorised transactions.
In addition you details are likely to be batch sold in the international criminal community and your credit reputation destroyed at least in the immediate term.
Cybercrime also damages the financial community; slows down peoples’ willingness to adopt internet technologies; and impedes the country’s economic growth. It is in your and the communities interests to take steps to avoid becoming an online fraud victim.
Cybercrime could not happen if people kept their personal details secure. This involves basic physical controls on data; such as shredding confidential personal documents such as bank statements and not just throwing them in the bin.
Passwords are important for internet access. You must use different passwords for different applications; make them random in composition and difficult to guess; and you should never share your password or leave them readily accessible either on paper or computer file.
Software protection is available but needs to be properly set-up (e.g. the encoding of Wi-Fi and the security level of firewalls.) Don’t disable software protection just because it slows your computer down. Ensure that all software is kept up-to-date.
Avoid phishing scams, involving a potential cybercriminal trying to obtain personal information off you, which will later be used to generate unauthorised payments from you or to obtain credit elsewhere in your name.
Be wary of unsolicited telephone calls from financial organisations that you do business with. Under no circumstance should you give any confidential accounts information (passwords; user ID’s and account numbers) to a caller no matter who they claim to be.
Never open emails, and in particular email attachments, that are unanticipated or from an unknown email address. These can plant spy bots on your computer that will then pass on your personal details the next time that you log on to your bank.
Often these phishing scams involve contact in the name of a reputable organisation inducing you to part with your personal information in return for some benefit.
A recent such scam involved SMS and email contact apparently from Wonga; the reputable payday loan company, offering a pre-approved loan.
Financial organisations do not operate in this way, and you should report such instances directly to them. In reality this was the work of scammers using Wonga’s branding as a mask for their phishing campaign, the loan giant has subsequently launched a designated fraud hotline in response to this to assist their customers.
Avoiding financial online fraud is not difficult, and a matter of routinely implementing basic security measures. This is akin to activating the alarm and locking the front door when you leave home to deter burglars. The financial costs of ignoring online security however can be enormous.
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