Scam, spam – plenty of us are bombarded with unwanted and sometimes downright fraudulent emails, texts and phone calls. The Department of Internal Affairs receives a constant flow of complaints and reports about both spam and scams each month.
While there are many different types of scam and fraud, banking-related scams can be among the most devastating, considering the fact that they generally target the source of your finances – your bank account(s).
The main types of banking scams include:
- Fraudulent emails pretending to be from banks or other financial institutions, asking for your bank details.
- Phone calls from someone pretending to be from your bank, providing a valid-sounding story to try and get your bank details.
- Credit card scams, where the scammers will try and convince you to give them your credit card details by presenting you with a (fake) gift, reward, or offer.
This aside, there are several ways to guard yourself against banking fraud, and avoid the financial and emotional damage of falling victim to a scam.
- Do some critical thinking – Say you receive an email from a bank telling you there’s a problem with your finances, but it’s not the bank you use. The email is obviously fraudulent; delete it. The same goes for emails that are clearly fraudulent due to not looking legitimate.
- Never ever click the link – If you receive an email claiming to be from the bank that you use, don’t click the link inside the email. Go directly to the bank’s website and log in from there; if there truly is a problem, you’ll know once you’ve logged in.
- Don’t send or receive money on the behalf of others – This practise is generally tied to criminal activity, and can see you be defrauded, or even charged with money laundering.
- Be careful with your details – Never enter financial or personal details of any sort on a strange or illegitimate site. Your bank’s website should be the only place you enter those kinds of details. Don’t fill out forms on unfamiliar websites, or buy things from websites that seem dodgy or suspicious.
- You can never be too careful – If you have even the slightest suspicion that an email or phone call is fraudulent, then act on that suspicion. Deal only with in-person bank staff, or the official bank’s website.
The people that run bank scams can be clever, but even the most convincing scam can be seen through after a bit of critical thinking and investigation. As long as you’re careful and sensible with your banking details, you should have no problem avoiding falling victim to a banking scam.