WINDHOEK, Feb. 8 – The internet has been part and parcel of our lives for almost 50 years as it officially began its life cycle in 1969, when scientists working for the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now known as DARPA) connected computer networks at the University of California and the Stanford Research Institute. Since then the advancement of this creation has come a long way, adding electronic banking to it as well as numerous digital channels and social media.
As social media continues to gain prominence amongst consumers, platforms like Instagram, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have also, unfortunately, become a platform where fraudsters attempt to catch unsuspecting consumers off guard. Elzita Beukes, Communications Manager at FNB said although social media scams in Namibia are not yet prevalent, compared to our global counterparts – the reality is that they do exist.
“Given that the popularity of social media is set to remain for the coming years, consumers are encouraged to constantly educate themselves and their loved ones about the latest methods that fraudsters use to get hold of their victims’ personal information,” says Elzita and adds some tips to take into consideration:
• Blackmail – never share personal photos or videos on social media that portray you in a compromising position as scammers can use these against you by threatening to send them to close family members or upload them on public platforms.
• Phishing – beware of fraudsters pretending to represent your bank on social media platforms. Your bank will never ask for your credit or cheque card, account number, online banking login details or password or One Time PIN (OTP) on social media platforms.
• Help and favours – be on high alert when asked for special financial favours or urgent assistance by strangers, no matter how caring or persistent the individuals may seem. Never share your banking details with strangers and think twice before sending money to someone you recently met online or haven’t met in person yet.
• Dating and romance scams – consumers who use social media platforms to meet companions or their life partners should lookout for fraudsters that play on emotional triggers to scam people out of their hard-earned cash. Dating and romance scammers often lower your defences by appealing to your compassionate side in order to take advantage of you. This is particularly prevalent around days such as Valentines, which is slightly more than a week ago.
• Identity theft – avoid sharing personal information, such as ID, passport, drivers licence, payslip, bank statement, municipal or account statements on social media. Fraudsters can steal your information and use it illegally by impersonating you.
• Money laundering – scammers often trick people through social media platforms by claiming to have large sums of cash that they need to deposit urgently through a foreign bank account. Do not allow your account to be used by another person to deposit or transact on. This can put you in serious trouble with authorities as allowing proceeds of crime to be laundered through your bank account, knowingly or unknowingly, is a criminal offence.
Furthermore, never open a bank account in your name on behalf of a person you have met on social media platforms, irrespective of the circumstances. – NDN Staffer