Scams can ruin your financial health – don’t fall for them.
The convenience of online banking and using smart devices for all kinds of transactions, comes with a risk. Fraudsters and scammers keep finding ways to trick us out of our money and it’s up to us to be aware and avoid the financial stress a scam can cause.
On Monday, 11 October, Siwe received a call from an MTN number. She tells us what happened next.
I answered the call, the caller greeted and asked me how I was and proceeded to say that he was calling from MTN. He read out my number and asked me to confirm that it was correct, which I did. He then said that my number was flagged in Menlyn and that someone was trying to do a SIM swap on it. For MTN to stop this, they would send me a message with a one-time pin (OTP), and that I should read the OTP back to him as soon as it comes through.
A few seconds later I received the message and it looked legit – it even had a link at the bottom to what looked like the MTN webpage. But then I remembered that when people from banks or other organisations call, they must tell you that the call is being recorded for safety purposes. On this call, the caller did not mention anything like it. When I realised this, I listened carefully to the background noise on the call for any indication that he was calling from a call centre, but there was nothing.
By now I was suspicious, and I told him I would call MTN myself. He tried to assure me he could assist me, but he sounded a bit frustrated, so I hung up. When I called MTN, there was no suspicious activity on my phone, and they wanted to know if I had given the OTP number to the guy who called me. I said no. I was then told that MTN does not call its customers and certainly would never ask for sensitive information over the phone.
I was lucky that I didn’t fall for the scam.
The scam Siwe did not fall for, is called OTP vishing.
Other common scams are:
- Phishing: You get an email from a reliable organisation, like a bank or an email service provider, asking you to update or confirm your details by clicking on a link or an icon. The link launches a fake website and all the details you provide are captured and used to defraud you.
- Smishing: You receive an SMS supposedly from a recognised organisation, like a bank, asking you to contact a toll-free number. When you call the number, an automated voice-response system prompts you to provide sensitive details like your account number, password or PIN.
What to do:
- Always check that the message is real by verifying the email address or, in case of an SMS, calling the company on the number on its website.
- Never provide account numbers and passwords over the phone, unless you have called the bank or company for a specific reason.
- Never give a PIN or OTP to anyone over the phone, on email or in person.
- Loans in exchange for an upfront fee. A legitimate credit provider will never ask you for money before lending you money. All the fees and loan costs are included in the final loan amount. If someone wants you to hand over any cash before you can get a loan, stop the conversation and walk away.
- The promise to clear your record at the credit bureau for a fee. There is no quick fix to a bad debt or credit record. No unauthorised company or person – not even a lawyer – can remove negative data from the credit bureau records, no matter how much you pay them.
The ability to recognise a scam is an important part of financial literacy. Safeguard your financial health and avoid financial stress by staying informed of scams and being aware and alert whenever you deal with service providers.