Old Mutual has warned Internet users against fraudsters using the company’s branding to offer bogus loans and investment opportunities.
Stuart Marshall, CEO of Old Mutual Finance, says: “Criminals are using the trust and good name of financial services providers to try to gain the confidence of consumers and to dupe them. The simple advice is, be streetwise and don’t fall for it.
“We must all be vigilant about these ploys because they’re becoming ever more sophisticated. Among these are unsolicited e-mails that may be presented as a communication from Old Mutual using fake Old Mutual letterheads and logos, or falsely claiming to originate from an Old Mutual financial adviser.
“Do not under any circumstances get involved in these scams, no matter how enticing they seem,” he warns. “In fact, our experience is that the more lucrative or unbelievable they seem, the likelier they are to be a scam.
“If you suspect that an offering on an Old Mutual letterhead (or mentioning Old Mutual) might be a scam, immediately call Tip offs Anonymous on 0800 222 117,” urges Marshall.
He adds that there are several tell-tale signs that the advice or offering is in all likelihood fake:
* The e-mail address: oldmutualloan@safrica.com, for example is clearly bogus as “safrica” isn’t Old Mutual’s domain. A registered, legitimate company will have its own domain reflected in its e-mail address.
* E-mails that ask you to reply to an email address that differs from the sender’s. So a sender’s email address such as “application form from oldmutualloan@safrica.com” ” asking you to reply to “loan approval from oldmutualfinancialloan@consultant.com” is clearly not legitimate.
* E-mails that ask you to make payments to a bank account that is held in the name of a person, rather than a company.
* Poor grammar or spelling is generally a give-away, or at least a warning to be wary. So are logos that look as if they’ve been copied and pasted from elsewhere.
* Be suspicious if an offer or return on investment seems too good to be true. A loan with an interest rate of 3%, when the prime lending rate is 9,5%, for example, should trigger alarm bells.
Also beware of loans offered by e-mail, Marshall says. In particular, beware of a request for an upfront administration fee. As a customer, you should never be required to pay this.
If you’re a victim, offers the following advice:
* Don’t keep quiet because you feel that others will criticise or mock you for falling for the scam. Your experience can help the police and other consumers.
* Change your banking passwords and PINs as soon as possible.
* Don’t contact the fraudster. Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Never share your banking details or agree to make payments to them.
* When in doubt, find out. Contact Old Mutual’s Customer Service Centre if you want to double-check on legitimate promotions or special offers run by Old Mutual. Call 0860-50-60-70 or 0860-44-54-45.