Easy ways to protect yourself from online scams
Criminals are constantly on the lookout for new ways to part you from your hard-earned money. The anonymity and variety of online platforms makes it easy for them to find new targets. The aim of fraudsters is almost always to lure you into providing confidential information – this can be via email, SMS or WhatsApp, phone call, malware or remote access – to get their hands on your money. Anyone of us can be a target. Ultimately, it’s up to you to stay safe. So, here’s how to identify a scam and what you can do when you encounter one.
6 Ways to recognise a scam
- You are offered or promised something that sounds too good to be true. Some examples are: a 45% return on your investment in 48 hours, or a loan without having to produce proof of income, or winning lottery numbers in exchange for a fee.
- You’re told you’ve won a prize when you never entered a competition. Fraudsters will often give you a limited time to supply your ID document and personal details to claim the prize, hoping to catch you off guard. These scams often reach you from free email addresses like Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail.
- Money is demanded upfront to receive the prize or to clear a parcel that is addressed to you. In some cases, fraudsters may already have your personal details, like address, email or telephone number, in order to give the appearance of being legitimate.
- One of the most common types of scams is when you’re asked to confirm personal or account details via a hyperlink, icon or attachment in an email, SMS or WhatsApp sent from a source you are unfamiliar with.
- Mukuru forensics unit is seeing an increase in scams that target desperate people who are sick or financially vulnerable. Do not be tempted to send money to a bogus traditional healer in exchange for a substance they claim will make you better or bring you luck in life or love.
- A romance scam plays on your emotions to cheat you out of your money. Criminals set up fake profiles on legitimate dating websites or social media platforms and invite you to connect with them online. They’re experts at sharing fake personal information to get you to trust them. Then they ask you to send money to help them with a personal crisis, or pay for their travel expenses to visit you. Once you’ve given them your money, you never hear from them again.
You think you’ve found a scam – now what?
If you think you’ve been approached by a fraudster or you’ve come across a social media account that you suspect is being used to scam people, or even if you’re just not sure if what you’re seeing is genuine – never stay silent.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Even if the offer turns out to be an honest offer – we applaud you for checking first!
Get in touch with the Mukuru Contact Centre and give the consultant you speak to the site URL or link to the suspicious account or activity. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mukuru’s Forensic Unit will never ignore a tip-off.