The global economy has worsened, placing an ever-tightening squeeze on households. Because of this, fraudsters have become more determined, and people are more desperate to make a quick and easy buck.

Fraud continues to increase for South Africans as consumers fall victim to phishing scams, fraudulent adverts or have their identities stolen by criminals. With the festive season around the corner, we want to remind people to be vigilant and suggests if you gut-instinct tell you it’s a scam, it probably is.

According to Momentum Metropolitan’s cybersecurity team, for the average citizen, information in the wrong hands is a huge threat, making it is easier for criminals to impersonate people and companies. Right clicking, copy and pasting means you can use anyone’s online pictures or logos. This form of identity theft can often go unnoticed by the victim and might only find out when unpaid accounts become due, or money is lost. But there are more scams in the fold:

* Business Email Compromise – A recent Interpol report found that Africa accounted for 0.75% of the global fraud committed using Business Email Compromise, where fraudsters send an email and make it appear that it came from someone else. Or they intercept email communication and change vital information such as banking details.

* Phishing attacks – There has also been a steady increase in phishing attacks over the years, where an email is sent to a victim pretending to be from a legitimate source while trying to elicit sensitive information from the victim or to sneakily install malicious software on their device. It is estimated that world-wide phishing emails are involved in up to 90% of data breaches.

* Cryptocurrency myth – Cryptocurrency scams exploit the increased popularity of cryptocurrencies and offer inflated investment opportunities using fake wallets and even fake exchanges. Don’t be fooled with the myth of massive returns from fake investment opportunities.

* Employment scams – With a low cost of entry and wide reach, scammers use popular social media platforms to prey on job seekers with fake job advertisements and seemingly impossibly lucrative contracts. Never go to interviews in unprofessional spaces like private homes or hotel rooms.

In addition to encouraging people to protect personal information by properly destroying sensitive documents no longer needed and be cautious when sharing your personal information with others, Momentum Metropolitan recommends the following simple tips:

* All consumers must report fraudulent interactions with the SAPS.

* Keep sensitive information, such as how and where you store passwords, private.

* Never click on links unless you are 100 percent sure where the link is from and where it may take you.

* By accessing your free annual credit report, via South Africa’s’ several credit bureaus, you can identify fraudulent accounts or loans and can address the situation with the relevant institution.

* Be wary of Hotmail or Gmail addresses that are supposedly coming from established companies. Always ask yourself, why would a seemingly well-established company be using a free public email platform.

* Avoid accessing sensitive services such as your email or internet banking when using public WiFi networks.