Watch out for World Cup frauds
Football fans heading to South Africa for the World Cup should watch out for fraudsters preparing to target them, says watchdog.
The Identity Fraud Communications Awareness Group (IFCAG), which counts the British Bankers’ Association and CIFAS – the UK’s fraud prevention service – among its members has warned that travelling fans are sitting ducks for scammers in South Africa.
Neil Munroe, spokesperson for the Identitiy Fraud Communications Awareness Group, says: “Football fans will stand out from the crowd, making them an easy target for criminals. However, with a little extra vigilance we still believe people can enjoy the trip of a lifetime and avoid becoming victims of fraud."
South African officials expect 50,000 Britons to descend on their country during the month-long World Cup tournament, but some other estimates have the total as high as 100,000.
While there has been a focus on the risk of violence for fans, they should also be aware of potential fraud traps and ensure they know what to do if they do fall victim to a scam, says IFCAG.
"Fraudsters will target ATM machines around hotels, stadiums and bars," says Munro, "They know that is where the highest concentration of tourists will be."
To help out, the watchdog has put together a list of the most common ones to be aware of:
ATMs will not always look tampered with if they have been set up to scan your details, says Munroe, scammers are far more sophisticated and machines will often look as good as new.
If you are having trouble using the ATM and someone offers to help you with a transaction, be immediately suspicious. One tactic of fraudsters is to dress in the bank's colours and tell you to swipe your card with them as the ATM is not working. They then clone your card and ask you try it on the machine or ask for your pin so they can memorise it then note it down.
A small camera installed at the ATM to record your pin, is another common device, you could then be mugged or pickpocketed for your card.
Finally, you card might get stuck and a helpful 'passerby' will offer to try the PIN for you. They then stand guard while you go to get some help within the bank, take your card and use the pin.
"Never write down your PIN or give it to anyone," says Munroe, "And be wary of any offers of 'help' with ATM transactions, even if it appears to be coming from an official. If the machine retains your card, call your bank back home straight away."
Credit card fraud
According to IFCAG, South Africa has a high incidence of credit card fraud. The best way to avoid this is to keep your plastic in your sight at all times.
For example, if you are paying for services or products in a restaurant or shop do not allow the staff to take your card elsewhere to put the transaction through - go with them if they insist their card machine is in another room.
Before you travel, inform your card company of your intended destination so they can keep an eye out for any unusual usage.
Also, keep copies of contact numbers for your provider, so if you do fall foul of fraud or theft you can contact it immediately.
It is a good idea to travel with a back up card. There is a growing market in pre-paid currency cards because they only contain a limited amount of funds - the amount you loaded on in advance - and therefore your vulnerability will limited too.
Credit card fraud
Credit cardholders can be defrauded in a number of ways: “skimming”, when someone copies the data from your card’s magnetic strip onto another card without your knowledge (in shops, bars and restaurants); stolen or lost cards being used by thieves; and postal interceptions where the card the bank sends you never gets delivered. Another way is through identity fraud, where criminals get hold of a utility bill, a bank statement or some other form of personal information so that they can take out credit cards, loans or mortgages in your name.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.