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Be aware

17 December 2004 Angelo Coppola

Absa wants to help you avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent practices including:

1. False payment fraud

2. Personal Information fraud

3. Card Cloning or skimming

4. Phising or email fraud

1. False Payment Fraud

People who advertise goods for sale in classified sections can be the victims of fraudsters who provide so-called ‘proof’ of payment in the form of faxed deposit slips which have been altered, or payments that will not be honoured by the bank.

What can you do to avoid falling for false payments?

* If you accept a cheque from someone, never release your goods before you are absolutely certain that the funds have been cleared

* Never accept a faxed bank deposit slip as proof of payment. It is easy for someone to alter details to fake a cash deposit or change figures to reflect a higher value

* First check with your bank that the correct amount has been deposited, that it was a cash deposit or that the cheque has cleared

* Sometimes a bank-issued cheque will not be paid out and you could end up without your goods and your payment

* At a nominal fee you could ask for special clearance to speed up the process

Paying deposits:

Contractors often require a deposit before they start work, but it could happen that they are "fly-by-nights" who will leave you high and dry without your deposit.

How can you avoid risking your deposit?

* Before you pay a deposit to a contractor, ask for references and check their credentials carefully

* If the contractor claims to be a member of an industry body, don't take their word for it make sure for yourself

2. Personal information fraud:

* There are criminals who are guilty of identity theft in that they gather personal information about you in order to access your funds

* Make sure that it is difficult for strangers to access your personal information

* Never give any personal information or banking details to a stranger over the phone

* Always rip, burn or shred personal or financial documents before throwing them away

* To prevent your ID being used to commit fraud, if it is ever lost or stolen, you should alert the SA Fraud Prevention Service (an organisation supported by most major banks) IMMEDIATELY on 0860 101 248 or at www.safps.co.za

3. Card cloning or skimming:

* Cloning is a misnomer, as it implies that your card has been physically duplicated. Severe security restrictions imposed on card manufacturers in terms of transportation, embossing, distribution and storage makes this a near impossible task

* Card ‘cloning’ usually happens when fraudsters skim or copy the details of the magnetic stripe on a credit or debit card and then, by way of a computer, encode the copied information onto a magstripe of white unbranded plastic or a card from the same issuer

* Skimming is most common in restaurants where fraudsters can pass the card through a small electronic device at their leisure

What can you do to protect your card?

* Never let your card leave your sight and always make sure that your own card is handed back to you

4. Phising or e-mail fraud:

A ‘phisher’ is someone who is literally fishing for your personal information in order to gain access to your funds. Fraudulent e-mails with attachments are sent to your inbox in an effort to extract your PIN and password when you open them.

How can you avoid getting lured into this scam?

* Be aware that fraudulent e-mails generally include attachments requesting personal information

* They are trying to lure you into providing this information on the spot either by replying or including links to a site that tries to get you to disclose personal data

* When such e-mails are sent, supposedly from your bank, delete them immediately

* Remember that a bank will never send you an e-mail requesting your password, account numbers, PIN or any other sensitive information

* If we do request information, you will be in a secure environment which will require you to log on to our website

* If you are not sure, call the bank call centre to verify the e-mail

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