Standard Bank warns of new tax scam targeting customers

South Africa’s biggest bank by total assets, Standard Bank is warning customers of a new tax-related scam doing the rounds as tax season gets into full swing.

The bank said that the prevalence of scams has increased, and with July being the opening of tax season in South Africa, tax-related hooks are becoming more common.

It pointed to this specific modus operandi:

  • You receive a fraudulent email that looks like it comes from Standard Bank.
  • This email says that your tax certificate is attached or even that you’re eligible for a tax refund.
  • You’re asked to click on a link or attachment and provide your personal information or digital banking credentials.
  • Criminals use your details to access your account(s) and steal your money.

How to protect yourself

Keep your login details, passwords or account information private. Don’t share it with anyone, even if they ask, said Standard Bank.

“We’ll never ask for your personal, tax, banking or eFiling details via a link in an email, and neither will SARS. You won’t receive communication from us with an attachment or link to your IT3(b) income tax certificate,” it said.

Remain vigilant and know what to look out for, the bank stated.

Fraud continues to pose the risk of serious financial losses for banking customers. All indicators are pointing toward the fact that there are new scams and an increasing number of victims, warned Reana Steyn, the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) at the start of the year.

The basic modus operandi of these scams is not new. However, over the years, there is a constant change in the execution techniques that fraudsters have applied. “The success of these scams, and their evolution, is heavily guided by how the consumer will react in each situation,” said Steyn.

Steyn warned that banking fraud has become a very lucrative business for online scammers. The banking fraud matters investigated by her office in 2021 alone – the amounts claimed as losses by the victims of the various types of banking scams – exceeded R295 million.

“This is an extremely worrying trend, especially when considering that these funds are mostly lost by individuals and small businesses who, in the majority of cases, are not in a financial position to suffer any kind of financial setback. In addition to the negative effects of Covid-19 on finances, most of these victims will sadly never be able to recover from these financial losses,” said Steyn.

According to the OBS’ 2021 records, the Ombudsman received and investigated over 2,880 banking fraud related cases. This was a significant increase of 7.5% from the fraud cases that were investigated in 2020. Most of these matters were due to bank customers falling victim to internet banking fraud, credit card fraud, current account fraud, and ATM card swap scams, it said.

Read: 10 scams targeting customers in South Africa right now: FNB