Wham. Bam. You’ve been scammed.

Did you know that according to a recent report conducted by an insights agency, digital banking fraud in South Africa is at an all-time high and there’s been a steady increase in this trend over the last four years?
And the numbers are disheartening to say the least. While there was a marked increase in the awareness of potential scams across the board, 22% of users still fell victim to these criminals in the last year, up from 19% in 2017; 14% in 2016 and 12% in 2015.

Now who would have thought that lately even attorneys are facing spear phishing attacks by criminals? In these scams, cyber crooks send a conveyancing attorney a fraudulent email purporting to be from a home seller. The attorney firm is instructed by a client to register the sale of a property. Once the property is registered at the Deeds Office, the proceeds of the sale are due to the seller.
The cyber criminals then make their move. The attorney is sent a last-minute email alleging to be from the seller, requesting that the seller’s banking details be amended. The proceeds of the sale are then diverted into the hacker’s account.

So which scams debuted in 2018?

  • About 8% of users fell for the ‘You are a winner’ Pay-to-Play scam
  • About 13% of users fell for the advanced ‘Free Loan/Prequalified Loan or Credit Card’ scam
  • About 4% of users fell for the ‘Request for Help’ e-mail fraud (regarded the ‘next generation’ of the infamous 419-scam) asking for help and promising riches in return. About 6% of users still fall for the traditional 419-scam!
  • Phishing scams are still a frequent occurrence, with 36% of respondents being targeted and 7% falling victim to it in the last year.

TOP TIPS TO STOP SCAMS

Keep your operating system and browser updated
Luckily, Windows and most browsers have settings to update automatically, so you don’t have to do anything other than stay protected.

Use strong, unique passwords
Reports suggest that 63% of data breaches were the result of weak or stolen passwords. It’s also important to use unique passwords on every site and avoid social login.

Keep your antivirus updated
Your antivirus is only as good as its last virus definition update. Set it to automatically update both the core programme and virus definitions.

Lock down Windows
Windows has a built-in password access feature. So use it to lock your computer when not in use, especially in public places.

Look for HTTPS
This identifies that the website is using a security certificate that encrypts the data sent between you and the site. Most browsers provide details on a site’s security certificate to help you determine if it’s legitimate.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Everybody loves free Wi-Fi. But public Wi-Fi is a playground for hackers. Most data isn’t encrypted, so it’s easy to pick up credentials as you log in to email, social media and banking sites. For best results, avoid using it or use a VPN to protect your data.

Skip emails and texts you don’t recognize
Sadly, 30% of phishing emails get opened, leading to identity theft, malware and ransomware. If something seems odd or you don’t recognize the sender, delete or avoid it.

Limit online sharing
Cyber criminals can learn intimate details about your life simply by how much you share on social media and use it to figure out your passwords. Set your social media profiles to private, so only your friends can see your posts.

Check the site you’re shopping on
Look for warning signs on any site you shop on, such as:

  • Numerous grammatical errors
  • Currency listed strangely, such as 100R versus R100
  • Extremely low prices, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is
  • URLs with hyphens and symbols, such as shop-here-low-prices.com
  • No privacy policy
  • No HTTPS

If anything feels suspicious, leave the site immediately.

Don’t forget research proves that 90% of all cyber-attacks begin with an email.