Protect yourself against online scams during lockdown

The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced people to change the way they live. To comply with Lockdown restrictions, work and business transactions are being conducted almost exclusively online. Unfortunately, scammers have taken notice. These cybercriminals have updated their fraudulent online tactics to cash-in on the pandemic. The scams can take various forms, each designed to target unsuspecting online users. Here are a few examples of the despicable tactics seen in use recently:

  1. Fake calls and texts: Scammers create fake emails or texts, which mimic the look and feel of legitimate institutions, to trick you into sharing valuable personal information like bank account details, ID numbers, passwords etc.

  2. Online scams: Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments or clicking on links that allow scammers to steal your passwords, ID numbers, and bank details.

  3. Donation scams: There have been reports of thieves taking money from consumers by claiming they are collecting money for charities or NGOs.

  4. Fraudulent online loan sharks: Illegal money lenders are preying on people's financial hardships, charging exorbitant interest rates for loans.

  5. Fake vouchers and refunds: Scammers are offering fake vouchers for groceries or refunds on bank transactions, just to get unsuspecting South Africans to share their personal information.

These are just a few of the examples of how scammers are taking advantage of the difficult time the world is going through. It is therefore important to learn how to protect yourself from being a victim of these scams. Here are 7 tips that will help you safeguard yourself.

  1. Be aware of any suspicious emails or any other unusual electronic activity that may come across your screens, phones, and emails.
  2. Do not click on any unfamiliar or suspicious links, or comply with requests for sensitive/private information, unless you are 100% sure you can trust the source.
  3. Be aware of disinformation campaigns and hoaxes, particularly on social media.
  4. Make sure your password for each critical site is strong and unique. Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible. This means combining your username and password with something that you own, such as a One Time Password app on your phone.
  5. Apply all basic security features. Keep your operating system, plug-ins, and anti-virus software up to date and apply security patches when necessary.
  6. Secure your home Wi-Fi network.
  7. Use a virtual private network (VPN) which provides a secure tunnel for all your internet traffic, preventing criminals from intercepting your data.

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