Scams can appear in a variety of forms, targeting average retail customers and experienced investors alike. When you browse the internet, use a social networking site or read your email, you should be wary of scams. Scammers are always on the lookout for opportunities to steal personal information (such as login details) to get to your money. These scams can be referred to as “phishing” scams due to their tendency to ‘fish’ for information. Some common types of phishing scams are described below and how you can identify them.
Smishing occurs when fraudsters falsely claim to be representatives of a customer’s bank. The fraudsters will send you a text whose number appears to originate from your bank’s fraud department. The message will request you to confirm details of a payment you made by calling a certain number. The fraudsters may even go the extra mile and include the message in an existing chat conversation with the bank, in order to pass off as being genuine.
Vishing is similar to smishing except the medium being used is a phone call but the goal remains the same, to get you to share your banking details. For instance, you may receive a call from a scammer who will claim to be from a utility or phone company, or from your satellite TV provider and present you with a refund. However, their intention will be to get your authorisation codes such as the three-digit code on the back of your debit or credit card in conjunction with your card number and expiry date. In the end, your codes will be used to facilitate fraudulent online banking payments.
Another example would be to contact you claiming to be the bank or police and inform you of a problem with your cards. They may ask you to transfer funds to a new account that is supposedly ‘safe’. Or, they may ask you to input your card PIN over the phone as they are sending a courier to collect the defective card. Alternatively, you may be asked to withdraw money, or purchase expensive items and hand them over to the courier to assist in an investigation.
Phishing is one of the more common types of scams. Scammers will contact you via email, claiming to be from your bank and asking you to provide them with your security details or click on a link where they can access the same.
Very common phishing email scams come in the form of “you have received a PayPal payment” from an email that looks almost like it comes from PayPal itself. The email tells you to click the link to confirm the payment. The link in it then redirects you to a page that looks almost like the real PayPal site where you are supposed to input your username and password. Once the scammers have those details, they take your money out of your PayPal account. (I personally find these PayPal phishing emails in my junk mail folder on a weekly basis.)
As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! So always be cautious when you receive texts, phone calls or emails requesting your financial information.
Never share your online security information with anyone, even if you are told it’s needed to halt a payment. If you are doubtful, confirm the message you have received with your bank directly, through the numbers on the bank’s website or the one on the back of your card.