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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Online scams: Consumers urged to verify before they transact

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The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has teamed up with a fraud prevention service to safeguard consumers against online scams that leave them out of pocket.


The Commission says it has noticed a sharp increase in online financial scams, and to combat this, consumers can now visit a dedicated platform which will tell them whether a website is legitimate or being used in a scam.


The NCC says scams often involve impersonating companies, investments and financial scams, multiplication schemes, and pyramid schemes.


In its efforts to fight these schemes and scams, the NCC has teamed up with the Southern African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS).


The SAFPS supports the Yima tool, which aims to enable consumers to protect themselves before parting with their money.


The Yima platform allows consumers to verify whether the website is vulnerable, has been flagged as being used for scams, or is an unsecured website. Yima means Stop in IsiXhosa or IsiZulu.


Acting National Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza describes this partnership as a step closer to curbing scams or minimising the impact of scams on vulnerable consumers.


Mabuza has encouraged consumers to make use of the handy tool:


“Most consumers get scammed while transacting online, therefore, we saw it beneficial to the consumers to partner with SAFPS to implement the Yima tool. We ask consumers to STOP and think before completing a transaction, joining pyramid, multiplication, and related schemes, or submitting their details including banking details online. During the festive season, consumers lose their hard-earned cash through scams. We believe that the Yima Tool will help to empower consumers to be more proactive and vigilant when transacting online.”


ALSO READ: National Consumer Commission launches e-Portal


Nazia Karrim, Head of Product Development at SAFPS says Yima online reporting tools show that advanced fee scams and investment scams have been the most prevalent, making up 33% and 24% of incident volumes, respectively.


“Online scams, specifically those related to goods and services like vehicle purchase scams, have also been rampant. One of the emerging trends is Ancestry scams, which exploit African cultural beliefs. Victims are often duped by fraudsters pretending to be traditional healers. The losses are substantial, sometimes even involving the sexual abuse of female victims. We encourage consumers to complete the scam awareness and prevention efforts using Yima Tool services. This will help us determine the level of understanding and what type of information consumers require.”


To access the Yima tool, consumers can go to www.yima.org.za or via the NCC’s website: www.thencc.org.za – Quick Links – Yima-Stop the Scam.

Liesl Smit
Liesl Smit
Liesl is the Smile 90.4FM News Manager. She has been at Smile since 2016, with nearly 20 years experience in the radio industry, including reading news, field reporting and producing. In 2008 she won the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award, Western Cape region. liesl@smile904.fm

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