How to protect yourself from fraud?

Imagine the frustration of checking your inbox to find yet another phishing email, cleverly disguised to trick you. Or navigating the web only to stumble upon an online scam promising big returns with little effort.

These are not just minor annoyances but real threats that South Africans face daily.

Fraud is no longer just the tale of shadowy figures in dark alleys; it has morphed into a digital hydra, constantly evolving and striking when least expected.

The rise of financial and money scams has put everyone on high alert, turning the browsing the web into a potential risk.


This reality makes it important for us to understand and confront the challenges posed by these digital deceptions head-on.

Financial fraud in South Africa

Financial fraud encompasses deceptive practices aimed at personal or financial gain at the expense of others. Common tactics like phishing scams and phishing attacks see tricksters donning the guise of reputable entities to pilfer sensitive data.

With these scams becoming ever more cunning, the call for tight fraud alert systems and thorough fraud prevention strategies is louder than ever. In response, South Africa has amped up its game, launching awareness drives and developing new tech to outsmart these schemes. Banks and cybersecurity gurus are doubling down on their mission to school the public on spotting and sidestepping these deceitful traps.

Fraud alert services has been a game-changer, empowering individuals and businesses to quickly identify and address suspicious activities and avoid potential losses. This proactive movement towards fraud prevention is a collective journey, emphasising the importance of staying alert and making wise decisions to ward off fraud.

Common types of online fraud and scams

South Africa’s landscape of online financial fraud is intricate and extensive, encompassing a variety of schemes that target individuals and businesses alike, some of the most typical online scams involves:

  1. Advance fee frauds: Individuals are asked to pay fees upfront to receive a loan, prize, or other financial gains, which never materialise.
  2. Banking frauds: This includes unauthorised withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts, often following a phishing attack where victims are deceived into giving away their banking credentials.
  3. Credit and debit vard frauds: These involve the unauthorised use of someone’s card information for transactions, often stemming from card skimming or data breaches.
  4. Investment scams: Individuals are lured into making investments in nonexistent or worthless ventures, promised high returns that are never delivered.
  5. Loan scams: Victims are convinced to pay upfront fees for loans that are never provided by the scammer.
  6. Pension and retirement scams: Scammers target individuals’ pension savings, offering fake investment opportunities or schemes to unlock or transfer funds prematurely.
  7. Insurance frauds: This can involve selling fake insurance policies or filing exaggerated claims against existing policies.
  8. Tax scams: Individuals are tricked into paying money to scammers who claim they can obtain a tax refund or reduce tax liability.

Fraud prevention tip and strategies

To enhance protection from fraud, a multifaceted approach is essential, combining vigilance, education, and technology. At the heart of fraud prevention is awareness of phishing attacks, which are prevalent tactics used by cybercriminals.

Here are practical strategies to fortify against such threats:

  1. Secure personal information: Minimise sharing sensitive data online and ensure that personal and financial information is only provided on secure, reputable websites. Look for HTTPS in the URL and a padlock symbol in the address bar as indicators of security.
  2. Regularly update software: Keep operating systems, browsers, and anti-virus programs up-to-date to protect against the latest threats. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to carry out phishing attacks.
  3. Use strong, unique passwords: Implement robust passwords for different accounts and consider using a reputable password manager to keep track of them. Change passwords regularly and use multi-factor authentication for an added layer of security.
  4. Monitor financial transactions: Regularly check bank and credit card statements for unauthorised transactions. Promptly reporting suspicious activity can prevent further damage.
  5. Backup data: Regularly backup important data to secure cloud storage or an external hard drive. This mitigates the risk of losing sensitive information in the event of a cyber-attack.
  6. Be sceptical: Always verify the authenticity of requests for money or information. Contact the organisation directly using known contact details to confirm requests.

Implementing these strategies can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to online scams, securing personal and financial well-being in the digital age.

Legal and institutional framework

In South Africa, the fight against financial fraud is bolstered by robust laws and dedicated institutions focused on fraud prevention and fraud protection. The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) plays a pivotal role, offering services like Protective Registration and Voice Biometric Imposter Checks to safeguard individuals and businesses from identity theft and financial fraud. SAFPS works collaboratively across sectors to reduce financial crime’s impact on society and the economy.

Legislatively, South Africa has enacted several measures to tackle fraud and corruption. The country’s legal framework includes the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PCCAA), which criminalises a wide range of corrupt activities, and the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act, which enhances data privacy and security.

Moreover, the Cybercrimes Act marks a significant step in defining and prosecuting cyber-related offences, encompassing a range of illicit activities from data breaches to online extortion.

These legal and institutional frameworks are essential for maintaining a secure financial environment, helping individuals and organisations stay ahead of online scams.

By continuously updating and enforcing these measures, South Africa aims to create a more secure digital and financial landscape for its citizens and businesses.

Resources and support systems

For individuals in South Africa needing to report scam email or seek fraud alert assistance, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) offers support. They can be contacted at 011-867 2234 for fraud prevention services and advice on protecting against identity theft and financial fraud.

Additionally, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has a Cybercrime Unit that addresses cyber-related crimes, including online scams. Victims of such scams can report incidents to SAPS for investigation. For banking-related fraud and scams, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) provides resources and support to combat these crimes.

FNB, one of South Africa’s largest banks, also has a dedicated fraud hotline. Individuals can report fraudulent activities or get support for banking-related fraud by contacting FNB’s security centre at 087 575 9444 within South Africa or +27 11 369 2924 for international calls.


In today’s world, where financial fraud is alarmingly intricate, taking proactive steps in fraud prevention and fraud protection is more than a necessity, it’s a lifeline.

Arm yourself with knowledge and utilise available resources to guard against online scams. Remember, vigilance is your strongest ally. Stay informed, stay alert, and take action at the first sign of a fraud alert.

In doing so, you won’t just protect your assets but also your peace of mind.