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We made it to December! Halala!

The end of the year is finally upon us as we sit back and relax without worrying about the annoying alarm jolting us awake the following morning.

It’s most likely that all our plans are finally coming together: Family vacations, road trips, functions and events with strategically co- ordinated outfits, are just a few days away…

But… be vigilant!

This is the peak season for scammers. They have been concocting innovative plans to part you from your money and your annual savings.

So you need to make sure that your hard-earned money does not land into that criminal’s hands.

While we all understand that the festive season is a time of merriness and good will, don’t bring your guard down just yet.

Be extremely wary of anything that looks “too good to be true”, because it might just be a scam.

Fraudsters know we like discounts and cheap deals, so they lure us with emails or duplicate websites promising ‘amazing’ discounts on luxury or everyday gifts that we can’t usually afford.

Password stealing scams:

Password theft remains a popular online scam. The financial rewards of running this scam is immense to cyber-criminals and the ease of running this crime is incredibly easy.

How to avoid it: Do not click on links or attachments from unsolicited emails, to avoid downloading password stealing software.

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Holiday-themed emails:

Holiday e-cards and websites with cute holiday-themed downloads are tempting “clicks” during this season. But malicious spyware may be lurking behind those links.

How to avoid it: Always be careful what sites you access and what email links you click on.

Related articles: How to cut your travelling expenses this December

ATM Card duplication:

ATM’s are extremely busy at this time of the year, so fraudsters put chips and cameras on them to duplicate your card or record your password.

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How to avoid it: Avoid using the express ATM’s at garages or clubs, they don’t have cameras so the bank can’t really investigate your fraud case. Be extremely paranoid with checking the ATM’s for hidden devices.

Fake accommodation scams:

Everyone is looking for cheap and convenient accommodation and cyber criminals know this. They always pressure you to pay the deposit up front and never give you enough details about the place.

How to avoid it: Book through a reliable booking agent. Use well-known booking sites like Trivago or Booking.com as they have systems that protect clients from potential fraudsters.

South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) card fraud:

Sassa has warned their clients to stay vigilant. The agency says social grant beneficiaries need to be aware of a new scam in which criminals request personal details via SMS.

How to avoid it: Never reply to any SMS with your personal details, no matter how real and authentic the site might actually look.


File picture: Independent Media

How to spot a scam:

• You are offered money for nothing or close to nothing. You just have to click on a link, download an attachment or provide some personal information.

• When upfront payment is required, it always has to happen immediately or within the window period. So, never provide any upfront payments, no matter how genuine the email or SMS seems.

• You are pressured into responding, with personal information.

This tactic is often used in competition or discount methods scams and it aims to pressure you to reply before you have time to think. At times they threaten to close your account or suspend a service if information is not quickly provided.

If in doubt, always check with the company first.