By Staff Writer

Evading cellphone and online scams have become part of our daily digital lives.

This is because confidence tricksters are constantly coming up with new methods in a bid to swindle people.

Some of these scams are not always obvious though. It is therefore crucial to keep to yourself informed about new scams.

Cellphones are a convenient way to stay connected. They enable easy access to family and friends, make it possible to access vast stores of online information and can provide hours of entertainment.

Despite these benefits, you must always remain vigilant because your mobile phone stores far more information than you may be aware of.

This is even more applicable if you use your mobile device to do your banking. Remember, your phone is equal to a bank card and could even act as a gateway to your bank account.

In October 2021, which is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and is observed internationally to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) ran a campaign with the theme, #TakeACloserLook. The campaign encouraged South Africans to be aware and look closely before sharing any personal information or clicking on links online.

“People work, connect and transact online. But as our way of life has evolved in the digital space, so too has our vulnerability to cybercrime. What we now know is that things are not always as they seem online, so we encourage all South Africans to take a closer look.” said SABRIC CEO, Nischal Mewalall.

Some of the common forms of cybercrime that were addressed by the SABRIC awareness campaign included

Phishing emails that request that users click on a link in the email which will direct them to a “spoofed” website. This website is designed to fool users into thinking that it is legitimate to obtain, verify or update contact details or other sensitive financial information.

Vishing, which occurs when a fraudster phones a victim posing as a bank official or service provider and uses social engineering skills to manipulate them into disclosing confidential information, while at the same time leading them to believe that they are speaking to the bank or service provider. This information is then used to defraud the victim. 

SMishing, short for SMS Phishing, where criminals send an SMS often claiming to be from your bank, requesting personal or financial information such as your bank account details or PIN to defraud you.

And identity theft, which occurs when a criminal steals your personal information and assumes your identity to make unauthorised transactions or purchases.

Mewalall further explained: “One of the most important defences against cybercrime is prevention. Our hope is that our awareness campaign empowers people with knowledge to make safer choices that prevent them from becoming cybercrime victims when they go online.”

Tips to prevent Phishing and Vishing


Do not click on links or icons in unsolicited e-mails.

Do not reply to these emails. Delete them immediately.

Do not believe the content of unsolicited e-mails blindly. If you are worried about what is alleged, use your own contact details to contact the sender to confirm.

Type in the URL (uniform resource locator or domain names) for your bank in the internet browser if you need to access your bank’s webpage.

Check that you are on the real site before using any personal information.

If you think that you might have been compromised, contact your bank immediately.

Create complicated passwords that are not easy to decipher and change them often.


Banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone.

If you receive a phone call requesting confidential or personal information, do not respond and end the call.

If you receive an OTP on your phone without having transacted yourself, it was likely prompted by a fraudster using your personal information. Do not provide the OTP telephonically to anybody. Contact your bank immediately to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised.

If you lose mobile connectivity under circumstances where you are usually connected, check whether you may have been the victim of a SIM swop.

“Your personal data, when combined with technology, has become the new key to the safe that holds your money in a bank, so you must safeguard your data to prevent criminals getting access to your safe,” warned Mewalall.

He added: “looking ahead, cybercrime and data breaches will represent a significant threat to customers and banks, because even the best security and technology can be compromised when criminals source and use legitimate data illegally, to carry out a crime.”

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