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FNB cautions clients on new remote access fraud scam

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First National Bank (FNB) is warning clients of a new remote access fraud scam, which tricks victims into relinquishing control of their devices to steal money or sensitive information.

The bank says as individuals and businesses continue to increasingly use digital services, remote access software is becoming a popular way for fraudsters to attempt to defraud consumers and businesses.

The warning from FNB comes as banks battle various Internet-based threats targeting financial services.

On Saturday, Capitec cautioned of voice phishing, referred to as vishing, which it said is becoming an increasingly common banking scam, adding that fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated.

In March, Standard Bank Group had to shut down over 5 000 fake Web sites in the first quarter of 2021, and blocked millions of e-mails created by cyber fraudsters who impersonated the bank in efforts to solicit funds from customers.

Africa’s largest lender by assets said it observed an alarming increase in sophisticated financial cyber crimes over the past year, as fraudsters exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, Giuseppe Virgillito, head of digital banking at FNB, says: “With remote access scams, fraudsters will call to offer you help to ‘block a fraudulent transaction’ by downloading and installing ‘protective’ software on your devices. Once you download the remote access software, they’ll ask you to log into your personal online banking profile.

“Once you’ve logged in, your device will go blank and shortly afterwards you will start receiving OTPs to confirm transactions that you did not perform. The fraudster then reassures you that these are fraudulent transactions and request you to either approve or send them the OTPs for them to block the transactions. Meanwhile, they are the perpetrator using the OTP [one-time PIN] to process the fraudulent transaction.”

Further, Virgillito says, clients should protect themselves by keeping information private. “Never disclose sensitive information, such as your username, password, card and PIN details to anyone – not even a bank official.

“Beware of strange calls. If someone calls you, claiming to be from your bank, and offers to help you install software on your PC to protect you, or asks you to call the bank to release a payment, please end the phone call immediately and contact the relevant fraud department yourself.

“Never share your OTP – FNB will never ask you to share your one-time PIN under any circumstances. An OTP cannot be used to reverse a transaction and never approve Smart inContact requests for transactions you did not initiate. If you receive a Smart inContact for a transaction you did not initiate yourself do not select ‘approve’ – this will allow the money to be moved out of your account.”

Through its digital platform, FNB says, it will continue to educate customers about the latest fraud modus operandi and prevention methods.

“While we strive to have the very best security in place to protect our customers, it’s equally vital for people to work with financial institutions to keep themselves safe from fraud. We encourage our customers to use any of our banking interfaces to immediately report any suspicious transactions on their bank accounts,” says Virgillito.

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