Many people grow up being taught about crime. Teachers and parents stress the importance of locking your doors at night, saying no to drugs and avoiding talking to strangers. The older you get, the more you see the importance of taking safety measures to protect your money, valuables and physical safety. However, when it comes to cyber security and online shopping, many people frequently put these same things at risk.

There’s a pressing need to focus your attention on becoming more cyber savvy and protecting yourself online against cybercrime, identity theft and credit card fraud. 

What is Cyber Crime?

Criminals are always looking for opportunities, especially at this time of year when they know that people are winding down and spending their bonuses. Cyber criminals use clever scams to commit internet fraud by tricking their victims into disclosing their cell phone or online banking details. Unsuspecting customers honestly believe they are speaking to a credible source and, as a result, end up disclosing sensitive information that cyber criminals then use to defraud them.

In a world filled with technical jargon and complicated concepts, you may feel overwhelmed by the idea of protecting yourself against cybercrime. However, the best protection is knowing how to recognise it and becoming more scam alert! Here are some quick, easy steps you and your family can take to avoid being a victim.  

What is fraud and how to spot it:

Two Common Types of Cybercrime

  1. Phishing attacks: A phishing attack is when cybercriminals send legitimate-looking emails that encourage you to click on a link or open an attachment. When you do, they gain immediate access to your personal information. The email may also request personal information like account numbers, bank card numbers, passwords or ID numbers. Phishing scams are one of the oldest forms of a computer crime practised by cyber thieves today.
  2. Identity Theft: This is defined as the illegal use of someone else's personal information in order to obtain money or credit. How will you know if you’ve become the victim of an identify thief? Your bank account might have surprise withdrawals or you may notice credit card payments you didn’t make at online shopping sites. Another tell-tale sign is when you are unexpectedly denied in an online credit card application you didn’t even know about.

At African Bank, we care about the safety of your money, which is why we have put together some tips to help you become more cyber security conscious.

7 Ways to be More Cyber Savvy

  1. Don’t click on suspicious links: If you need to access your online banking profile, rather type the URL for your bank into the internet browser. First check that you are on the real site before using any personal information. A phishing email will ask you to click on a link to internet banking to enter your credentials. Your bank will never ask you to do this. If you do receive an email like this, report fraud attempts of this nature to your bank immediately.
  2. Create complicated passwords: The most important rule of cyber security is to make sure that your passwords are not easy to decipher. To be extra safe, you need to change them often.
  3. Avoid giving out any personal details over the phone: Remember that a bank will never phone you to ask for your pin number. Always be on scam alert.
  4. Guard against spam: Be careful of emails and SMSs that ask you to confirm personal or financial information over the Internet and/or make urgent requests for this information.
  5. Do not click on links, download files or open attachments from unknown senders: It’s best to open attachments only when you are expecting them and know what they contain. Be especially careful not to fall prey to scam websites and phishing emails of this nature.
  6. Beware of poor spelling or grammar: Legitimate organizations attend to details like grammar and spelling. If the email contains these errors - scam alert!
  7. Be wary of free Wi-Fi networks- Never do your internet banking or online shopping over free Wi-Fi networks, which are often not secure. You risk cyber criminals gaining access to your accounts and stealing your personal information. 

Always be aware and cautious. Fraudsters know all the tricks and often find ways to work around cyber security loopholes. In the event that you do get caught and believe your information has been compromised, change your internet banking details and advise your bank immediately.

Read more: Are you being fraud savvy with your cards?

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