Photography for SAS in April 2017 by Jeremy Glyn.

How to protect your personal data against fraud

According to the Kepios Digital 2022: South Africa report, 41.19 million of South Africa’s population are active internet users and as such are at risk of at some point encountering online financial fraud.

While banks and fintech platforms spend billions of rands each year to prevent fraud, it is still important for consumers to be aware of the range of tools used by scammers in order to protect themselves.

Due diligence is important

According to Tony Mallam, Managing Director at upnup, investing in cryptocurrency is relatively new to the everyday person, and scammers often try to take advantage of people’s lack of knowledge to make them buy into a crypto scam. 

Scammers usually trick people who don’t know what they’re doing by giving them a false sense of legitimacy. They do this by making fake websites, crypto trading platforms that look like real ones, or investment schemes that claim to have endorsements from celebrities or people with a lot of power in the finance industry.

Other common crypto scams include rug pull scams, where investors cannot withdraw funds after buying in, romance scams through relationships that are built online, phishing scams that aim to trick people into providing their personal or legitimate cryptocurrency wallet information, or giveaway scams.

As with any other investment, potential investors should perform their due diligence and conduct research into the site, platform and company they’re looking to invest in and make sure that they have legitimate backers and are sold by reputable firms before buying in.

It is also less risky to invest in very well-known cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and avoid lesser known coins, especially if they are experiencing a sudden upsurge.  Using trusted, and well established, investment platforms such as upnup, which aims to simplify the process of investing in Bitcoin, will help to reduce the risk of falling into the clutches of the rising number of crypto scams around the world.

Education is vital

African business owners should not hold back on making their businesses digital because of fear of digital, according to online booking platform and travel data repository Jurni.

Head of Marketing and Communication, Tshepo Matlou says that travel businesses are embracing technology in their marketing efforts but their underlying fear of tech, mostly among travel operators in localised areas and townships, is from a data safety perspective. This includes the fear of fraud and having their data in the cloud, which they do not have control of.

Matlou says educating customers on the subject is vital.

“Our clients are small businesses and we’ve been demystifying this old notion by creating workshops nationally and educating small businesses owners regarding the safety aspect of using a tech-based platform. We also provide the client with a signed agreement that speaks to maintaining the safety and integrity of their data when they are onboard.”

Lead from the front

According to Andrew Bourne, regional manager of Zoho Africa, businesses may unintentionally provide third-party services access to not only their own data but also that of their staff and even consumers. Employees may fill out forms or click links that share information with third parties, especially if they work remotely.

There are ways to avoid sharing private information with cybercriminals, says Bourne. It is essential that businesses constantly communicate their data collection and monitoring processes. They should also do privacy audits for third-party solutions, particularly given how much video conferencing and other forms of remote collaboration are used. In light of this, Bourne says potentially invasive monitoring tools to measure output or background activity should be used judiciously.

“Rather look at productivity and output as a form of qualitative monitoring.”

It’s also important to lead from the front by making it company policy to block third-party trackers and only use software service providers with a similar approach.

“This will go a long way to protecting your business and developing employee loyalty as they know that their personal information is also protected.”

Collect the right data, then keep it safe 

“Navigating an increasingly complex technology and regulatory landscape where customer data is concerned  is a key challenge for business in general and for marketers in particular,”

says Zuko Mdwaba, Area Vice President and Country Leader, Salesforce South Africa. He points to Salesforce’s latest State of Marketing report that shows although 71% of South African marketers still invest in third-party data, 73% say they have a fully defined strategy to shift away from this approach.

“This is positive news but more can and must be done to protect customer data at all costs.

Even where regulatory frameworks are already in place to ensure customer data is handled with integrity and in a transparent manner, the collector of the data should always differentiate between collecting data that can be applied to enhance the customer experience, and merely collecting data for the sake of it.”

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