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Don’t get scammed over the holidays

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The holiday season is upon us, and MTN SA has sounded a warning that scams have increased.
Ike Dube, GM: business risk management at MTN SA, comments: “We want to ensure that our customers are reminded about the necessary steps they need to take should an unfortunate incident occur. Therefore advising customers to be careful in this regard, as we have noticed a pattern in the past in theft and fraud.”
MTN urges customers to be extra vigilant when shopping: if a mobile device gets stolen, it is not only the device that is compromised, but also the information stored on it and the sim card.
Dube says: “If a device is lost or stolen, the user must immediately report it to the police and contact MTN straight away, to allow us to deactivate the SIM – this will ensure that the SIM cannot be fraudulently used where you as a customer is left with a massive bill to settle months later, in light of the fact that the SIM was still being used.”
The company is also alerting customers to the realities of fraudulent upgrades, SIM swaps, holiday hoaxes and SMS scams, as well as identity theft. “Should a customer suspect irregular activity, they should alert our MTN Customer Operations via our contact centre straight away,” Dube says. “We also reinforce to our customers that they should not give out their personal documents or details such bank accounts and ID numbers.”
With data and roaming costs as top of mind concern for customers, MTN are urging those who are travelling during this period to ensure that their data roaming is switched off, as roaming overseas can be a costly experience. In addition, should the device be lost or stolen overseas, a data roaming bill can be run up quite quickly, especially if the customer is not able to contact its service provider, having no form of communication.
“With all this in mind, we urge customers to be aware of their surroundings and to be cautious while shopping and travelling at all times during this holiday period,” Dube says.
MTN has tendered the following tips for consumers:
* It is important that customers make use of the following security features on their phones: handset PIN, where the pin prevents unauthorised use of the phone itself; and SIM card PIN, where the PIN prevents unauthorised use of the SIM card if it is removed from the handset.
* In the event that a phone is stolen/missing, the PIN provides a first level of security managed by the customer to prevent the fraud.
* Customers should consult with the customer services representatives in the stores to assist them to activate these primary security features.
*  Customers must be vigilant with regards to SMSs that they receive requesting their full details or congratulating them to have won either the lottery or some prizes. Customers must not respond to such messages.
* Customers receiving prank calls telling them they have won a prize, and that they should provide their ID numbers, proof of residence etc should refrain from divulging personal information.
* The broadcast messages on BBM can potentially be another form of phishing scams and should be cautious in opening URLs embedded within.
* Clients constantly receiving irritating or harassing calls informing them that they need to put their phones off as the service provider is still busy upgrading the network must not switch off their phone and should immediately report this to MTN.
* To prevent identity theft, review your credit report on a frequent basis this could assist in detecting any accounts added to your credit report without your knowledge.
* Safeguard yourself from identity theft with alerts from the relevant credit bureaus in the event that there is a critical change on your credit report. Avoid distributing your cell phone number on social networking sites to prevent unwanted and malicious SMS messages.
* Do not open and complete unwanted e-mail forms that request information of a personal nature.
* Be cautious while using public WiFi hotspots.
* Keep your mobile device software up to date and install security software on smartphones and tablets.
* Do not jailbreak or circumvent security features of mobile devices should it be already built into the device.
* Only purchase applications for your mobile devices from reputable applications stores online.
* Ensure that you have a back-up of all information stored on your mobile device on a computer or portable hard drive, in the event that your mobile device get stolen or lost.
* Remove all personal information from a mobile device before you dispose of the mobile device.