How to avoid phishing scams


CapeTalk host Pippa Hudson chats with consumer journalist Wendy Knowler about her weekly #ConsumerTalk feature.

  • Distinguishing scammers from genuine companies is getting trickier, says trade journalist Wendy Knowler
  • She warned consumers to beware of scam emails, text messages and fake websites that look legitimate

Image: © Nuttapong Punna /

As online fraudsters become more sophisticated, it is becoming increasingly difficult for South African consumers to spot a phishing scam.

According to mainstream journalist Wendy Knowler, cybercriminals are becoming more adept at impersonating legitimate companies in their emails, calls, websites, and even social media pages.

“It’s getting harder and harder to tell the real companies from the impostors,” she tells CapeTalk.

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Phishing scams occur when fraudsters create fake emails to try to gain access to your secure personal information such as bank details or passwords.

Due to the increase in cloned websites and fake email addresses, Knowler says it’s important for consumers to always verify the legitimacy of an email or website.

She warned consumers about an email scam involving a bogus loan offer allegedly from Direct Axis.

In the scam, the cyber criminals offer high loan amounts at very low interest rates, but they ask for payment fees and all your personal details to get the loan.

No financial services company will ask you to post money to secure a loan, advises Knowler.

As a general rule, she says consumers should never share their passwords or one-time-use PIN (OTP) with anyone over the phone or online.

RELATED: BEWARE! Digital fraud on the rise in South Africa: here are some tips to avoid falling victim

The clue is that legitimate loan providers will never ask you for an upfront fee. It’s not a thing… The same goes for job postings…candidates never pay money up front when recruiting legit.

Wendy Knowler, mainstream journalist

Forget how beautiful the site is. There is one thing that will deter fraudsters: they charge you a fee when you ask them for a loan. The money goes one way and it’s from your account to theirs.

Wendy Knowler, mainstream journalist

Just because they have your information…doesn’t mean they can open loans in your name and access your bank account…they need you to help them do that, hence the advice : do not give them any of your bank details .

Wendy Knowler, mainstream journalist

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