The popularity of Netflix’s hit documentary Tinder Swindler recently set social media abuzz with discourses of various scams. While the documentary, true to its name, exposes a romantic love scam, falling victim to a scam is by no means a new phenomenon. And getting swindled on the internet is more common than you may think. 

Reports show that the global pandemic, not only ushered in a new way of life for many people around the world, but also a spike in online scams. Cybercriminals took advantage of people’s desperation for COVID-19 related news, unemployment, as well as the surge of remote work and ramped up their criminal activity. 

The Cyberscam trend is showing no signs of dying down. Being proactive is always better than dealing with a crisis and we are identifying the top internet scams in South Africa for 2022 so you can protect yourself from being swindled. 

Top 5 online scams in 2022: 

Bank scams

Business Insider reports a new wave of bank scams that are becoming more prevalent in South Africa. One of the victims they highlight is a person receiving an email requesting they pay a small amount of R42,50 to release a package from the post office. The recipient made the payment and approved it. But then another payment authorisation request was sent to their cellphone and they hit ‘approve’ but this time R16, 000 was fraudulently deducted from their account with the reference ‘Singapore’. 

The Ombudsman for Banking Services states that the bank will only be liable if the fault is due to negligence on the bank’s part. Their stance is that the onus is on the customer to exercise a high level of vigilance when giving out sensitive information like credit card details. 

Bank scams are very common, and you should be careful when providing sensitive information that includes your card details. If you’re uncertain, contact your bank or ask for the person’s contact details and deposit the amount with a manual EFT. And don’t accept any suspicious or unknown payment authorisation. 

Phishing  

Phishing is when cybercriminals attempt to access your personal information using email, text messages and phone calls. The information they want to access rangers from card details to ID numbers, banking information and passwords. 

You can usually spot a phishing scam because of the following:

  • Overwhelmingly strong call-to-actions
  • Suspicious attachments or links 
  • Unknown sender
  • An excessive amount of pop-ups 
  • Spelling or grammatical errors in a website’s URL or contents of the email 
  • A website that does not start with HTTPS or have a visible padlock icon next to the URL

Vishing 

Cybercriminals pose as bank officials or service providers in an attempt to gain access to your personal information. And they then use that information to defraud the victim. 

Here’s what you need to know about vishing scams: 

  • They can mask their numbers and make it seem like they are from a legitimate institution
  • They will ask you for confidential information over the phone – don’t give it 
  • If you get an OTP without having transacted, contact your bank and do not approve any prompts for unknown transactions
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you may have fallen victim to a vishing attack

Smishing 

Smishing is when cybercriminals send you text messages pretending to be from reputable companies or brands to fraudulently attain your personal information. They want to retrieve information like your card details or passwords. 

Think you may have been a victim of smishing? Here’s how you can spot a smishing scam:

  • If the message is not relevant to you. You might have ‘won’ something but did you enter the competition?
  • The message contains suspicious links
  • Poor spelling and grammar in the message 
  • Don’t trust personalised messages either

Sim swap scam

A sim swap scam is when cyber criminals request a sim swap from your network provider with fraudulent documentation. The goal is to access your account and number on a device they can control. 

Here’s how to avoid sim swap scams: 

  • Don’t click on unknown links 
  • Be vigilant over mobile signal loss on your phone
  • Don’t respond to competition SMSes 
  • Don’t give out your personal information over the phone
  • Notify your bank know when you are travelling abroad 

Scams are not going anywhere, and it’s up to you to protect your private information and practise vigilance when it comes to online scams. Adding a few layers of safety to how you navigate this digital world can go a long way in protecting yourself.