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Don't get caught out by these banking scams

(Image credit: Mastercard)

The festive season is the perfect time of year for criminals to coax confidential information out of unsuspecting people. Banking scams are rife this time of year, as there is an increase in consumerism. 

Criminals use this increase in spending activity to steal banking details, either by posing as an employee from a bank or through other malicious ways. 

The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) has issued a warning that banking scams are on the rise this festive season. 

Reana Steyn, the Ombudsman, explains that fraud can happen when transacting online or when a bank card is used at an ATM or point of sale (POS) device. 

Criminals also contact their targets over the phone and can sometimes know personal details such as ID numbers, name and card number. 

Steyn stressed that no banking facility would ever contact a person for their CVV numbers or for an OTP number sent to their phone from a bank. Bankers will also never ask for a access codes, PIN or passwords. 

Fake websites with deals that are too good to be true, are often just that. 

Here are some ways to protect yourself from scams this festive season 

If it's too good to be true, it probably is

That unknown website selling the sold-out Xbox? The 90 percent discount
from subtly misspelled "Targett?" 

Chances are those incredible offers probably are just that: incredible. So, think before you click -- or worse, disclose your username, password, or credit card information.

Don't assume your friend is your friend

With the pandemic, we're all feeling a bit isolated, especially as the holidays roll around. And friends and family are more important than ever. 

But that unusual email from your old college friend may not be what it seems. And what looks like a fun attachment - or one posing as an emergency demanding fast action - could be poised to wreak havoc.

Again, think - or verify with your friend - before you click.

Manage those passwords

Nothing gets a hacker into the holiday spirit like the same weak password used for multiple accounts. 

But keeping track of different, complex passwords can be a hassle (though not nearly as big a hassle as malware, ransomware, or identity theft). A secure password manager makes it easy to employ a unique password for each website you use. That way, even if you do get hacked, the damage will be limited.

Double the trouble (for hackers)Stay up to date

Two-factor authentication is a great way to dampen a hacker's holiday spirit. The best, like Cisco [4]'s Duo Security, are heavily encrypted, benefit from a vast, global infrastructure, and are simple to use. But any device, app, or service that supports two-factor authentication between different services will be a good choice.

Stay up to date

Software developers work hard to constantly improve their work, fix bugs, and stay ahead of the hackers. But if you aren't updating your software, you're missing out on all those benefits. The good news is that automatic software updates, which were once problematic, are now highly reliable. So, turn them on and forget about them.