When something looks too good to be true, it often it, writes Sarel Lamprecht, MD of cyber insurance company Phishield.
Scams come in many shapes and sizes, and fraudsters will use whatever communication channel they can to lure in their unsuspecting victims.
Take SMS for example; this is a cost effective way of targeting many people, and the fact that scams still go out over the medium shows people still fall for it. Here’s a typical one: “Dear cell owner we noticed Ur R295,000 is still Unclaime from RICA Promo Ref no (RRG7) for payout call Mrs Aleta Strydom on 0634434682 or 0832045012”.
There are several giveaways that point to this being a scam. For starters, it’s not addressed to anyone in particular. This is much like sending out a mass email with all recipients in the BCC line, meaning it’s gone out to a whole lot of people.
Look at the spelling mistakes – Ur and Unclaime – that’s a serious giveaway. Any real promotion would not have people to send out mass SMSes that are riddled with mistakes. Also, a RICA promotion cannot possibly exist. RICA is a law – the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act – not an organisation.
Whether you get an SMS from someone about a RICA competition, or any other company purporting that you have won something, if you’re not sure, run the name through Google.
And here’s the last red flag: you need to call someone on one of two cellphone numbers. Any legitimate company will have a land line number, and odds are, the person who picks up the call will have nothing to do with the company whose name was used.
Should you call, you can be guaranteed whoever is on the other end will want a whole lot of personal information, which will probably include your ID, address, bank account number, PIN number and your email password. Once you’ve handed all that information out, your bank account will be raided.
If you don’t hand out sufficient information, they will likely still have enough details to somehow pull off a SIM swap, and then your account is open to them. Either way, the number is likely to be a premium rated one, costing you a fortune.
Remember, no reputable organisation will ask for more personal information than they need to verify that you are who you say you are. Don’t give out any data that could leave you at risk.
Another type of scam is when you’re sent a text by someone who pretends to be your friend. This usually results in a long SMS exchange, and a hefty bill for you in some instances.
So, how do the scammers get hold of your phone number? It’s actually quite simple. Type a number into Excel, for example 082 000 0001, then below that 082 000 0002 – highlight both and drag – and Excel will generate a whole database of numbers.
What should you do about these types of SMSes should they be sent to you? Report the cell number to an organisation that can take action.