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Beware of fraudsters posing as financial service providers

by Tania Griffin

Specialist loans provider DirectAxis has added its voice to warnings about a company calling itself Direct Access Finance using false information, apparently in a bid to dupe consumers.

It appears to be a case of fraudsters using a bogus identity that tries to imitate a legitimate brand to extract money or personal details from customers, DirectAxis said in a statement.

DirectAxis has a 29-year track record. It is a business unit of FirstRand Bank Limited and is an authorised financial services and registered credit provider NCRCP20.

South Africa has a high incidence of financial crime, and scammers are constantly coming up with variations of existing scams and new schemes, making it impossible to detail every sort of scam.

Tips to protect yourself from the most common scams are:

  • Be suspicious of e-mails or messages from friends which seem out of character or from well-known companies that contain spelling or grammatical errors, or other inconsistencies such old logos or Gmail addresses rather than a company domain e-mail.
  • Similarly be cautious if the name seems similar, but not quite the same as that of a legitimate company. In this case, Direct Access rather than the legitimate and registered entity DirectAxis.
  • Only shop on or transact on reputable websites and either bookmark your trusted sites or type the URL into your browser. Never click on a link you’ve been sent – it could take you to a bogus site. 
  • Don’t believe you’ve suddenly become eligible for a very low-interest-rate loan. Never pay an upfront admin or other fee or provide personal details to release the money. If it seems too good to be true, it is. 
  • Don’t share your passwords or PIN numbers with anyone on any channel, even if they claim to be from a bank or other financial service provider. No reputable financial institution will ever ask for this information.
  • Never let bank or other transactional cards out of your sight. If you do lose a card, report it and immediately put a hold on the card. The same applies to your cellphone, particularly if you use it for banking. 
  • Don’t share personal information on social media sites.
  • Never let any unauthorised person have remote access to your computer, cellphone or other devices even if they claim to be from a well-known company, bank, IT or software provider.
  • Don’t download software from pop-up windows.
  • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know and trust.
  • Scammers use all the channels they can – including phone, e-mail and social media. Be careful about answering unsolicited messages.
  • Install antivirus software and update it regularly.
  • Be wary of payment requests for goods or services you haven’t or don’t remember ordering, especially if you’re asked to use an unusual payment method.
  • Frequently check your credit rating. You can use free online tools such as Pulse. A sudden, negative change in your rating could indicate someone is using your personal information fraudulently.

If you’re suspicious or do get caught out, report the scam. The information you provide may lead to the scammers getting prosecuted or at least the scam being shut down.

Most financial services companies have fraud departments and will act to shut down websites, bank accounts and other mechanisms used as part of the fraud. Reporting scams is the best way to fight back. Even if you have spotted the scam, reporting it may prevent others falling victim.

Image credit: Freepik

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