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How Can You Shield Yourself from Social Engineering Scams?

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In today’s digital age, the rise of international players like Temu, Shein, and Amazon in the local market brings with it enticingly lower prices through incessant social media advertisements. However, alongside the convenience of online shopping comes an increased risk of fraud.

According to George Wandsella, Head of Operational Risk and Fraud at TymeBank, a study by World Wide Worx shows that online spending in SA grew by 23 percent (to R71 billion) in 2023. As more consumers become online shoppers, cybercriminals are also getting smarter, utilizing various social engineering techniques to scam them out of their hard-earned money

Social engineering is currently one of the most common techniques used by fraudsters in this environment and refers to “all the techniques used by criminals to exploit a person’s trust to directly steal their money or get confidential information to enable a subsequent crime. The aim is to influence a target to reveal specific information or perform a specific action for illegitimate reasons.”

Beware these social engineering tactics

1. Social Media Phishing: Scammers pose as legitimate entities on platforms like Facebook, manipulating victims into sharing personal information or conducting malicious activities like SIM swaps.

2. WhatsApp Phishing: Fraudsters impersonate banks or retailers via WhatsApp, using enticing messages or attachments to lure victims into revealing sensitive data or downloading malware.

3. Smishing: Utilizing text messages, scammers create urgency for victims to click on malicious links, compromising personal and financial information.

4. Vishing: a phone-based scam where fraudsters impersonate trusted entities to extract sensitive information over the phone.

Additionally, advancements in AI-powered technologies enable scammers to craft convincing messages without the usual grammatical errors, making detection more challenging. These tactics underscore the need for stringent scrutiny of all electronic communications.

To protect yourself, Wandsella advises thorough scrutiny of all communications, especially those containing links related to account details, deliveries, or invoices. Vigilance and skepticism can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to online scams, preserving financial security and personal data integrity.

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