'Phishing' expeditions on the increase

The number of schemes to fraudulently obtain confidential information from internet banking users has grown, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said on Tuesday.

“Banking industry data managed by Sabric shows that the number of ‘phishing’ websites targeting local bank clients that have been detected and shut by the banks have more than trebled in the last four months,” Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay said in a statement.

“This is really unprecedented and a clear sign of the extent of the onslaught,” Pillay said.

As fast as banks shut down “phishing” websites to prevent more people from falling victim, those behind them used the information they had already collected from their victims.

“We urge bank clients to be extra vigilant with their banking information.”

Pillay urged anyone who had given out their banking information in response to an email request to notify their bank. Customers were also urged to contact their banks before responding to emails requesting their banking information.

In the emails, fraud suspects pretending to represent the South African Revenue Service enticed victims to supply their banking details to receive tax refunds.

“It is clear that the perpetrators have now customised their approach to make their scams more believable to a typical South African bank client.”

The emails linked to websites that appeared to be those of local banks, which made them more believable to users.

No bank, said Pillay, ever sent emails requesting customers to update information online by accessing their site via a link.—Sapa

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