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Staying One Step Ahead: Protecting Yourself from Cyber Fraud

May 30, 2024 | General, Latest News | 0 comments

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We sadly have recently heard about so many clients and friends who have fallen victim to some sort of scam… We wish to raise your awareness and keep you informed so that you can adopt proactive measures to significantly reduce the risk you face of falling victim to these malicious schemes.

A few of the most recent scams we have been made aware of are – being called and told that there has been an attempted SIM swop on your phone and another where it appears to be your bank contacting you regarding apparent fraud on your account and to advise you to cancel your cards.   PLEASE do not fall for either of these scams currently doing the rounds.    Call your provider or bank with contact details that you have (not the ones that the fraudsters provide you with) to confirm if in any doubt.

The most important one we would like to bring your attention to is the following regarding bank details for transactions.  At a meeting this week with a financial planner from another planning company we heard some alarming news about a fraud that one of their clients had fallen victim to.

The client wanted to add money to their existing investment and had asked for the investment company’s bank account details. The financial planner emailed the bank details to the client, but somehow the email was intercepted and the client received an email with different account detailst. The email appeared to be from the financial planner and the client, having no reason to suspect that anything was amiss, transferred R2.1m. Even though the bank phoned to make sure he wanted to go ahead with the transaction, the client was unaware that the bank details were incorrect and approved payment into the fraudulent account.

Sadly, after investigations, it was the client’s email account that had been compromised and the loss was borne by the client. The financial planner did nothing wrong, having sent the correct bank details to the client’s email address. The bank was not in the wrong either, having followed their clients’ instructions to the letter. And the insurers will say that since it was the client’s email that was compromised, the loss will not be covered by professional indemnity cover.

This is a devastating case for everyone involved, especially the client. It seems that little can be done to stop emails from being intercepted, so let us all be proactive and take whatever steps we can to reduce the chances of falling victim to this.

Here are some thoughts on providing better security for yourself:

The safest way to transfer money into an investment account is to allow the financial services provider to debit the funds directly from your bank account via a once off debit order. You simply supply the investment company your bank details and ensure the funds are available for collection.

Another safe method to transact is to do an EFT and to select a public beneficiary profile when making the payment. You should find a list of public beneficiaries, including many of the well-known public and private institutions, preloaded on your banking app. Most financial institutions will be public beneficiaries.

If, for whatever reason, you are emailed bank details from Veritas we recommend that you make contact with us directly and confirm the banking details. Do NOT simply click on a link in the email to call the office; rather use the number you have for us or alternatively look the phone number up on the website. Remember that any links on the email could also be fake and an emailed reply could be intercepted. Call Veritas, ask to speak to the staff member assisting you and get them to confirm the bank details back to you.

At a glance, an email that has been intercepted will look a lot like the real thing; it is better to treat all emails with some suspicion. Look carefully at the email address. Often there will be some additional or unusual characters in the address. Do NOT click on any links or download anything from an email whose origin you are not 100% certain about.

Also, alarm bells should ring when the content of an email tries to create a sense of urgency. Do not be compelled to act in a hurry. Ask yourself: Why are they asking for personal information (that they should already have) and why must I provide it so urgently?

Do NOT disclose any personal information over the phone, including passwords or OTPs.

If you have not done so already, it is highly recommended that you increase the security settings on your email account. Security settings on web-based email accounts, such as gmail, are by default set low, but can be raised without too much trouble. We recommend you do some research or talk to your email provider about how to increase the security on your email account.

This is not our area of expertise, but it has been suggested that multi-factor authentication when logging into your mail account is the safest. This involves using your cell-phone number as a back-up to authenticate you.

Be vigilant to scam phone calls putting you under pressure and always double check that you have the correct payment details for transactions taking place.



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