South Africans urged to stay alert of cybercrime

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Cyber criminals aren’t easy to detect and present a real risk to their victims. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to be aware of the threats they pose and take every precaution you can to keep yourself safe.

According to Giuseppe Virgillito, FNB Head of Digital Banking, the remote living and working requirements of lockdown have meant that most people are communicating digitally – and criminals often use this to their advantage to gain people’s trust in order to steal sensitive information, money or both.

“Fraudsters are constantly looking for new ways to get to your information,” Virgillito explains, “and if customers or businesses let down their guard as a result of physical distancing and the need to transact or operate digitally, that unfortunately presents fraudsters with another opportunity to commit their crimes.”

He points out that fraudsters will go to any means to get individuals or organisations to divulge their personal or financial information, often by tricking them with technology.

Phishing is one of the main methods of social engineering employed by fraudsters. This is where a person is tricked into providing confidential information like Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or One Time Pins (OTPs), usually via email, or even the person’s cloud login details (usually via SMS) which can compromise one’s identity and even bank accounts. 

Vishing attacks are also on the rise, with many fraudsters posing as bank representatives calls the person and then use scare tactics to convince their ‘target’ that their money is at risk if they don’t share their account or card information. They even convince some people to make payments themselves, convincing them that this action will reverse the supposed fraud being committed (while actually the person is making payments to the fraudsters).

“It’s not just individuals that are targets. Businesses are also at risk, with cyber criminals using various means to try and access their banking or customer data. The most typical methods include virus attacks via emails, public website hacks and exploiting software vulnerabilities to access stored data,” adds Virgillito.

“These criminals also prey on vulnerable people, such as the elderly. Therefore, it is very important to also remind senior family members or relatives to always be cautious of any communication they receive claiming to be from a bank or their mobile service provider, and to never share any of their OTPs, PINs or login detail,” he says.

Virgillito adds that while FNB has the very best security in place to protect its customers, it is vital that customers also take responsibility for their own security, and work with their bank to keep themselves safe from fraud. He highlights a few key precautions that banking customers must take:

  • Be careful when sharing any sensitive banking or personal information and do not save these on your device
  • FNB will never ask you for any OTPs, PINs or login details.  OTP stands for ONE TIME PIN – nothing else. OTPs are used to authorize specific actions or a transaction or payment resulting in money leaving your account.
  • The bank will never ask you to process a payment to reverse transactions.
  • Carefully check all OTPs or App Approval Notifications (such as Smart inContact) before approving any transaction. Do not approve Smart inContacts for a transaction you are not aware of
  • Make sure that your banking app is updated to the latest version and that your notifications are switched on. We also advise people to enable screen lock on their devices
  • If you have a business, invest in the best possible anti-virus or security software and make sure your staff know not to open unsolicited emails without first checking them for viruses.
  • Keep all business software updated and upgrade your technology as often as possible. 

“The easiest way for a cyber-criminal to defraud you is if you fail to protect yourself or your business. This national Cyber Security Awareness Month, we strongly urge all South Africans to educate themselves about the ways fraudsters work, and commit to staying alert and vigilant, to keep themselves and their money safe,” concludes Virgillito.

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