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Black Friday: Beware of scammers – how to avoid being a victim

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It’s finally Black Friday BUT consumers shopping for those major bargains have been warned to be on the lookout for online scams.

While malls will be filled to capacity this coming Black Friday, online platforms have also seen an overwhelming increase over the years in South Africa. Part of it is attributed to the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, during which many people spent most of their time indoors and had no choice but to make use of online platforms like Takealot and Checkers’ Sixty60 app.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday taking place on 26 and 29 November respectively, the Ombudsman for Banking Services, Reana Steyn has warned South Africans to be wary of various scams they could fall victim to, as criminals are always waiting to take advantage during this period.

“While it may be considered the perfect time for shoppers to take advantage of these discounts, the dangers of falling victim to the various scams out there is heightened and can unfortunately not be divorced from these Black November offers,” Steyn said.

Black Friday: here’s How to protect yourself

If you’re planning on making use of online platforms this Black Friday, make sure you take note of the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of clever scammers seeking to make a quick buck. According to the ombudsman:

Always conduct independent checks into the seller prior to making payments, not after
Only shop on legitimate websites. If you are unsure as to the legitimacy of the website, do research on the retailer-don’t rely on the company’s own reviews
Check the average price of a product and consider if the price is too good to be true (Sometimes it’s not – it is Black Friday after all)

Avoiding ‘vishing’ fraud

Vishing is a form of phishing during which a type of message — such as an email, text, phone call or direct-chat message — appears to be from a reputable company, with the aim of inducing consumers to reveal personal information, such as bank details and credit card numbers. This type of scam has gained momentum and will likely be practiced this Black Friday towards unsuspecting South Africans.

Don’t share personal and confidential information with strangers over the phone no matter how convincingly they try to tell you they are calling from your bank. Visit your nearest bank branch to address the query
Never give in to pressure. If someone tries to coerce you into giving them sensitive information, hang up and immediately contact your bank’s fraud department to report the incident
Stay calm and don’t panic. Call your bank immediately after a suspicious call and verify with them whether there is a real problem on any of your accounts held with the bank
If you receive an OTP on your phone without physically making a transaction, it is likely that it is a fraudster who has accessed your personal information. Do not provide the OTP to anybody. Immediately contact your bank to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised
Always be sceptical. Even if your Caller ID gives the name of a bank, or some other company or organisation, it could be a trick

These tips are courtersy of the Ombudsman for Banking Services.

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