The most common online scams and how to stay alert and wallet wise

Standard Bank’s tips on how to avoid cybercrime in personal and business banking

Just by being vigilant, you can steer clear of scams.
Just by being vigilant, you can steer clear of scams.
Image: Supplied/Standard Bank

During holidays, it’s easy to become complacent about your banking security and safe banking habits. Fraudsters don’t take a break or a holiday, which is why it’s important for you not to let your guard down and not only be wallet-wise but cyber-wise.  

“Fraudsters use websites or e-mails to trick you into giving out your personal or banking information. By staying up to date with the latest fraud trends, you can protect yourself. Never click on an internet banking sign link in an e-mail or SMS,” says Carolina Reddy, head of business risk and cybercrime at Standard Bank. 

Just by being vigilant, you can steer clear of such scams. Here’s a list of the most common online scams and how to prevent them from happening to you. 


This is a method used by cybercriminals to try to get your personal and banking details, such as your ID number, bank account number and credit/debit card number. They send e-mails impersonating companies or individuals asking you to click on a link directing you to a “spoofed” or fake website. The site is designed to fool you into thinking it’s a legitimate website requesting you to verify your details, which the cybercriminal uses to conduct fraud. 


This is when scammers call you, impersonating the bank, asking you for personal information and your one-time pin to stop fraud on your account. They will then use your information to process fraudulent transactions against your card/bank accounts.

Change of banking detail scams

This scam occurs when an unsuspecting person receives notification that one of their suppliers has changed their banking details. The notification may come in the form of a telephone call, an e-mail or a posted letter and will include the details of the new account, asking you to update your records. As a result, any future payments will be diverted into the fraudster’s account. 

There are some general habits you can adopt to protect your personal and banking information online: 

  • Don’t click on suspicious links and delete the e-mail immediately.
  • Never share your one-time pin with anyone (including the bank).
  • If you suspect you have been compromised, contact your bank immediately.
  • Keep your personal information secure and ensure you have set up privacy settings on your social media accounts.
  • Contact the supplier directly to confirm if the bank account details have changed before making any payments.
  • Don’t use the same e-mail address for your banking profile that you use for your social media accounts.
  • Use strong passwords that are difficult to socially engineer.
  • Do not log onto your digital banking on public Wi-Fi. 
  • Do not allow anyone to access your computer remotely. Someone from your bank will never ask you for remote access control to update your information. 
  • Be wary of spoofed websites which claim to be the legitimate website of an organisation, and is set up to mimic the original website. 

“Consumers have embraced digital solutions in the past year, which has brought about unprecedented convenience and functionality. However, consumers have had to learn the safe habits of banking in the digital age. Consumers who are banking on digital channels should be aware of digital hygiene factors when banking, as cybercriminals are likely to step up their activities as the adoption of digital channels increases,” says Reddy.

Be cyber wise and stay alert, particularly during the holidays, as scammers are more prevalent than usual at this time. If you believe you have been scammed, contact your bank immediately to ensure that you either recover your money speedily or prevent the scammers from taking what is yours. 

“Customers need to remove emotion when working online. Be measured and responsible when it comes to managing your online profile and if you think you have been compromised contact Standard Bank immediately.”

This article was paid for by Standard Bank.