By: Maria Samahina
In today’s digital age, where financial transactions and personal information are increasingly digitised, the risk of falling victim to financial fraud has grown exponentially.
Letshego Bank Namibia encourages Namibian citizens to remain vigilant and stay informed about the various forms of fraud. This is essential to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your diligently earned finances, especially as we approach the festive season.
Understanding Financial Fraud:
Financial fraud encompasses a wide array of illegal activities targeting your finances and personal information. These fraudulent activities can take many forms, including identity theft, investment scams, card fraud, phishing, and vishing attacks. Understanding these tactics is crucial, as they can severely affect financial stability.
Common Types of Financial Fraud on the Rise:
- Vishing Scams: Fraudulent phone calls from purported reputable companies aimed at inducing individuals to reveal personal information, such as bank details, OTPs, PINs, and debit/credit card numbers.
- Phishing Scams: Deceptive emails or messages – whether via phone or social media, posing as reputable companies or acquaintances, intended to persuade individuals to disclose personal information, such as passwords and debit/credit card numbers.
- Identity Theft: Criminals steal your personal information, like your identification card (ID) or passport, to commit fraudulent activities in your name, causing financial havoc. Be cautious of where you leave your original documents and certified copies, and to whom you give them to.
- Investment Scams: Beware of “get rich quick” schemes and unsolicited investment opportunities promising high returns with minimal risk. Always research before investing.
- Debt Relief Scams: Scammers are impersonating representatives of well-known organisations, claiming to offer a solution to eliminate loan payments at a fee.
- Card Fraud: Criminals obtain your debit/credit card and make unauthorised transactions.
- E-money Fraud: Fraudulent activities or schemes involving electronic money transactions and digital financial services, such as mobile money, electronic wallets, and other digital payment methods.
Protecting yourself from financial fraud is a shared responsibility between individuals and institutions. Here are vital steps to help safeguard your finances:
- Stay Informed: Regularly update yourself on the latest fraud tactics and scams. Knowledge is your first line of defence.
- Secure Your Personal Information: Safeguard your sensitive information and passwords. Use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts, and do not share your One Time PIN (OTP).
- Verify Before Sharing: Confirm the authenticity of unsolicited communications, whether email, message, or phone call. Do not share personal information without verifying the source.
- Check Financial Statements: Regularly review your bank statements for unauthorised transactions. Report any discrepancies immediately.
- Use Reliable Services: When investing, opt for reputable financial institutions and investment firms. Avoid opportunities that seem too good to be true.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you suspect or encounter financial fraud, report it immediately to the appropriate financial institution or the relevant authorities, such as the Namibian police.
- Educate Family and Friends: Share your knowledge with loved ones to ensure they are aware of potential threats and can protect themselves.
Maria Samahina is the Letshego Bank Namibia Risk Manager