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protect yourself against sms fraud

Fraudsters know that people are spending more and more time on their smartphones. They also know that smartphones are used on the go, or when people are in a hurry, and less likely to scrutinise their SMS messages. Criminals like to use this to their advantage.

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To trap you, they will send you an SMS that appears to be from your bank. This is called smishing. The message is often one that requires immediate action from you, for example to click on a link to stop a fraudulent transaction from happening. Yes, they even pretend to be from your bank’s fraud department.

Receiving such an SMS, many people panic and act without really thinking about the information they give the ‘bank official’.

This is how it can happen

A bank client has a small loan, which the client has been paying every month. The client receives this SMS:

Your Capitec account refers. Attorney AB June advises that the sheriff has rendered a Return of Service to their SUMMONS and is now ready to apply for JUDGMENT against you because of non-payment on your overdue Capitec account. You NEED to make an IMMEDIATE MINIMUM payment of R800 AND urgently contact May on 087 260 0915 for more information. DON’T IGNORE! Ref: 11291573

The client worries and immediately calls the number on the SMS, forgetting that their bank had warned them against this.

Client (worried): “Hi, I just read the SMS you sent, but I’m not in arrears!”

Fraudster: “Don’t worry, I will help you to sort it out. Just follow my instructions carefully. Please provide me with your remote banking PIN and approve the login.”

The client then remembers that a bank will never ask a client for their PIN and disconnects the call.

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t believe the content of an SMS blindly. If you aren’t sure that the SMS is from your bank or the content appears strange, contact your bank directly by using the number on official channels such as the bank’s website or your bank card to verify or to confirm whether an SMS was sent. Never use the number on the SMS
  • Don’t click on any links or icons in an SMS if you are unsure who sent it
  • Don’t reply to these SMSs. Delete them immediately
  • Never sign in onto a remote banking platform such as Internet banking or a banking app, based on an instruction given over the phone or from a link you have received

Fraudsters can be very convincing to make you believe that if you don’t take action immediately you can lose a lot of money. Don’t believe they will never target you, rather be cautious and alert.

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