GEORGE NEWS - Very few people escape the unpleasant experience of being defrauded at least once in their lifetime, but how you react to it can minimise the damage it causes to your psyche and your wallet. There are many different ways fraudsters can dip into your pockets, and with the holiday season coming up, these criminals know you will be transacting more and, perhaps, not be as guarded.
“As always, prevention is better than cure, so familiarise yourself with the typical scams that occur over the festive season,” says Nitesh Patel, Head of Customer Financial Solutions, Personal Banking at Standard Bank. “However, such criminal activity is not limited to the end of year, so it pays to remain vigilant all year round.”
Some common scams include:
If you’ve been scammed, report the perpetrator to the police as soon as possible, and then contact the publication or website in which you saw the ad to get them banned. Also report them on other platforms such as Hellopeter, Facebook and Twitter.
“Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to get your money back, but by reporting them, at least you can stop others from falling prey to the scam,” says Mr Patel.
Fake travel agencies
Fraudsters create high-quality websites for fake travel agencies, offering too-good-to-be-true deals. Hundreds of would-be tourists are convinced to pay on the spot, but when scammers feel they’ve stolen enough money, they shut down the website and simply create a new one.
If you’ve been scammed, report the fraudsters to the police, various travel associations and publications that you saw them advertise in. Sadly, it will be difficult to get a refund.
Workplace theft increases over the festive season, because people typically have more expenses.
“Work is a perfect environment for a would-be fraudster to gain access to your personal details - most of us have a PC on our desks that we routinely use to access our internet banking,” explains Mr Patel.
If you’ve been defrauded, go to your manager or boss and report the crime - they may have access to CCTV that could help you find the perpetrator. Report the theft at the police station and inform your bank that your accounts have been compromised. If your cards have been cloned, make a list of all unauthorised transactions.
“If you’ve been defrauded, contact your bank immediately to cancel your card, and alert the closest security guard of the event,” advises Mr Patel. “If your card has been cloned, and funds withdrawn from your account, register your claim with your bank as soon as possible.
Identity theft is a form of fraud in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity. The purpose of identity theft is predominantly to access resources or to obtain credit or other benefits in the victim’s name. It can be many months before you find out, and it can take a long time to undo the damage to your credit reputation.
If you’ve been defrauded, report the matter to the police and the SAFPS (Southern African Fraud Prevention Service) on 0860 101 248.