The most common scams during lockdown
Beware of banking scams during lockdown. It seems nothing can keep fraudsters and criminals down — not even the coronavirus. Fraud syndicates and cyber-skelms have become very inventive, and are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis. Here are some of the common banking scams that they run.
Three very popular scams
1. Vishing scams
Someone, pretending to be from the bank will call you. They will then ask you to update or verify your banking details. Very often, they will tell you that they are from the fraud department of the bank and that money has fraudulently been withdrawn from your account. They will explain that they urgently need to confirm all your details so that the money can be returned to you. By now, you are in a state of panic — and it is at this stage that you would normally give all your details, including your pin.
These criminals are so brazen and so clever, that they will even go as far as to ask you to call them back to confirm that you are actually speaking to someone from the bank. Sophisticated fraudsters will then have that call diverted to the bank’s real call centre — but by then it is too late. They have all of your details already.
2. Phishing scams
This is the email version of the telephone vishing scam. Fraudsters will send you emails which claim to come from a bank or a reputable email service provider. The email will sound urgent. It will most likely say that you have to follow their instructions immediately as you have been a victim of fraud. Then they will ask you to click on a link in the email.
Once you do that, you are taken to a fake website. Of course, the website is designed so well that you can’t easily see that it’s fake. Here is where true crime happens. Once they have you on their fake site, they will ask you to share your login or banking details. When they have captured this information, they can defraud you — stealing your money or identity.
3. SMSishing scams
SMSishing, also known as smishing or SMS phishing, is similar to vishing and phishing — but uses SMSes to scam you. Here they will send a link to you via SMS, but follow the same methods of trying to get your personal details.
We use our phones for everything these days, so we have to be extremely vigilant with our devices — especially when it comes to sharing private information. Do not click on SMS links unless you trust the sender to avoid these scams during lockdown.
These three are the most popular scams, but there are many more out there. Skelms target people through holiday scams, romantic scams, dating scams, SIM swap scams, number porting scams, donation scams, fake vouchers and fake refunds. The list goes on and on. Let’s look at a few specific to the national lockdown.
Other types of scams during lockdown
The most disgusting scams during this lockdown involve text messages that claim to have the results of COVID-19 tests — tests that those people have never even taken. It also contains a link you need to click, and curiosity gets the better of people. They click and follow the link. Before they know it, money has been taken from their bank account.
You aren’t even safe if you’re in debt and struggling to make ends meet! We’ve seen fraudsters offering people debt relief rewards, pretending they can reverse transactions and transfer your debt review payments into a different account.
Sebastien Alexanderson, the CEO of National Debt Advisors, warns that “NDA has not and will not change our bank details. If someone calls you and asks you to put your debt review payments into any other banking account, please get as much information from this person as possible. Then send us all of the information, so that we may take it up with the police. NDA (and all other reputable, registered debt counsellors) are working with the banks, others in the financial industry and law enforcement agencies to protect you.”
How to protect yourself from banking scams
The most important thing to remember is that your bank will never ask for your account details, password, ATM pin or OTP (one time pin) via phone, email or SMS. Never. The moment you encounter this, make a note of the phone number and immediately end the call — or write down the email address and DO NOT REPLY. Report it to your bank and/or the police, along with all the information that you have.
If you have already given them your details:
- Report this to your bank and the police ASAP.
- Let them guide you on how to protect your vulnerable account.
- Watch your bank account and credit report for unauthorized transactions, and report any suspicious transactions you find.
Now, more than ever, people are in financial distress and need money. If an offer seems too good to be true, it normally is. Don’t click on links that you aren’t 100% sure of. Make your passwords unique and strong. Use apps like Truecaller to know who’s calling you and which calls to avoid answering. It really is better to be safe than sorry.