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Phishing is a method that criminals use to try and obtain your personal and sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details and usernames. Their aim, of course, is to defraud you of money.
Fraudsters use various methods to trick you into revealing information about yourself. Avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam by being on the alert for anything that seems out of the ordinary.
Typically, phishing emails (or WhatsApp messages and SMSes) appear to come from reputable organisations – such as your bank or other service provider – and direct you to fake websites where you'll be prompted to enter your account details. This information is then used by criminals to gain access to your accounts and steal your identity.
There are a number of common email phishing methods, for example, a message alerting you to fraudulent activity on your account and a prompt to click to verify your details. Messages that threaten to close your account or blacklist you are also common tactics.
In South Africa, banks deal with phishing attempts often and update their 'scam databases' regularly to help customers identify fraudulent emails. (You can see examples here.)
Vodacom is also constantly working on protecting customers from criminals. You can view some of the most common hoaxes and scams on the Vodacom Help page. If you think you’ve been the victim of phishing or fraud relating to Vodacom, fill out Vodacom's Report Scam form to report the incident.
Top tips to avoid phishing scams
- Don't click unfamiliar email links – If you hover over an email link and the website address is not the official company link, don't click on it.
- Check the source – Make sure that the email address is a legitimate one. Sometimes fraudsters will use email addresses that look similar to a service provider's, for example firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com. If you're not sure, call your service provider to check.
- Watch out for bad spelling – Large corporates ensure their communication is of the highest standard. Criminals don’t spend time checking spelling and grammar.
- Don't give in to threats – Emails saying your account will be closed or your security settings have been changed are ways of getting you to react and respond quickly. Service providers will never ask you to update your personal account details or passwords in an email message.
- Keep it safe – Your credit card details, ID document and passwords need to be protected; never pass on information unless you are 100% sure who you are talking to.