3 Scams Doing The Rounds This Festive Season


Just as the Festive Season sees people relax and become more socially active, criminals utilise this opportunity to exploit human psychology by using malicious social engineering tactics to steal personal or confidential information to defraud people.
SABRIC, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre,encourages people to empower themselves by sharing information selectively, and on a need-to-know basis only. This is why we are adding the hashtag label #NotSaying to all our messaging, to remind people to not just share any personal information without careful consideration when prompted to do so.” says Susan Potgieter, SABRIC acting CEO.

SABRIC on behalf of the banking industry would like to share the tactics that criminals are using to defraud people this Festive Season, to ensure that they are aware of how to protect their hard-earned cash.

Here are the different scams doing the rounds

Confidential information includes usernames, passwords, OTPs (One Time PINs), PIN numbers and card security codes. SABRIC has seen a sharp increase in Vishing incidents where criminals phone bank customers, lead them to believe that they are speaking to the bank or a legitimate service provider and use these social engineering tactics to coerce them into disclosing their confidential banking information. Personal information includes identity documents, driver’s licenses, passports, addresses, full card details including the card security code as well as contact details and the compromise thereof creates opportunities for criminals to impersonate bank representatives and either take over the victim’s facilities or apply for credit using their credentials fraudulently.


“This is blatant abuse of a person’s inclination to trust.” says Potgieter.

Another scam that criminals are still deploying is to trick people into paying for holiday accommodation that doesn’t exist. This scam sees criminals preying on people’s anxiety about booking a last-minute holiday. Victims are lured with what seems to be a really good deal, pay for the holiday in full and are then unable to make further arrangements with the agent who has simply disappeared.


“An offer that seems too good to be true should make you suspicious.” adds Potgieter.

SABRIC is also cautioning bank clients to be vigilant when withdrawing holiday cash at ATMs. Criminals continue to attempt to steal bank cards and PINs by interfering with people while they are carrying out a transaction, and SABRIC urges bank clients not to accept assistance from anyone, even if they look well-dressed or seem legitimate. Interference also goes beyond accepting assistance, as it has been noted that scammers use deceitful tactics like telling people that the ATM machine needs to be programmed or serviced immediately after they have inserted their ATM card. Clients must be aware of these tricks and call security if needs be.

Bank clients are also urged not to carry large amounts of cash, and rather find safer ways to transact such as cell phone banking or internet transfers. Criminals know that people get their bonuses and that stokvels pay out at this time.

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