Avoiding Scams - South Africa World Cup

Wednesday 16, June 2010


Avoiding Scams - South Africa World Cup


ATM Fraud is widely reported in South Africa. Here are a few of the common ones:


Scam 1- You find you are having difficulty with your card. Someone will come to your aid and likely wipe the card, put it in the machine and offer to 'try the number for you'. They will seem helpful and non-threatening. The chances are that they will switch cards on you or clone it and use your pin.


Scam 2 - As you approach the cash machine, people dressed in the bank's colours will tell you that you must swipe your card with them as the machine isn't working. They will swipe your card, cloning it, then try it in the cash machine. The card will work and they will offer to put the pin in for you or watch you do it.


Scam 3 - Leaflet holders and the ATM's face can contain small cameras designed to catch your pin number. Remember there should be no loose wires, no containers or leaflet holders, and no loose fittings.


Scam 4 - Your card gets stuck and a passer by suggests you try the pin one more time or may offer to try it for you. Then with no success the passer by offers to stand guard while you report it to the bank, or ask to retrieve the card from the machine inside the bank. The passer by gets the card from the machine and leaves with your pin number.


How to avoid these scams:

  • always protect your pin number, never write it down or give it to anyone
  • have the ATM card for your transaction ready and in your hand. Opening your wallet or purse can be time consuming and provides a potential thief with easier access to your valuables
  • carefully cover the keypad while entering the number, and check where the security cameras are located. While many ATM have cameras, they wont be positioned to record the keypad
  • be wary to any offers of 'help' with ATM transactions, even if it appears the help is coming from an official
  • make sure the card you get back from the ATM after your transaction is yours, and don't count or expose your money after your transaction. As soon as you receive your money and bank receipt, put them away and leave the ATM area
  • only use ATMs in well-lit, high-traffic areas. If the lights aren't working, don't use that machine
  • stay alert. Report anything or anyone that seems suspicious or strange about the ATM machine. This could include anyone offering help, trying to look over your shoulder or taking pictures in the area
  • call the bank right away if the machine retains the card. Do not allow someone you don't know to 'stand guard' while you report it in the bank


Other scams

Foreign and Commonwealth Office has heard reports of people who have stopped to help an apparently distressed motorist, and then find that they have been conned by carjackers. It is better to report the incident to the police rather than stop your car and try to help 


Some online companies selling products such as accommodation may ask you to pay upfront, asking for bank details.


Be wary of these, the top tips for protecting yourself from these are:

  • avoid using public terminals (such as internet cafes) for online banking
  • be aware of the higher risk of interception during a wireless connection
  • ensure you have an updated anti-virus and spyware programme and perform regular system scans
  • do not open other websites while logged into Internet Banking, only have a single browser window open
  • choose a user ID and password that cannot be easily guessed and change these regularly
  • ensure your computer software is up to date
  • check for the padlock in the lower right of yoru browser window (it indicates a secure site). You can click on this padlock to verify the site "owners"
  • when you complete your online banking tasks, log off and close the browser window
  • never provide your password over the internet (by email) or over the telephone to anyone (including persons identifiying themselves as bank officials)
  • don't trust a PDF payment proof unless verified by the bank - these documents can be manipulated by fraudsters.



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