As times become tough, people tend to be more desperate than usual. This leaves the door for scamsters wide open.

As people become more desperate, they are more likely to believe scam related messages. In the past, scam operators use to be easily identifiable by their poor choice of language. As the translation software becomes better, this is no longer the first way to identify a scam. Here are six important messages, in simple language, you should share with your clients.

  • Ask for help

When people are presented with opportunities, they tend to act first and then talk to their network of professionals. In our accounting firm, we continuously remind our clients that they should check with us fist if they receive any communication that is related to their taxes. We have saved so many of our clients by preventing their actions. SARS also has a link where people can check the latest scams. The page can be found here.

  • Protect your personal information

Your personal information is worth more than the small deposit/ fees that are often requested. With enough personal information they can impersonate you at financial institutions to perform transactions on your behalf. There is a huge black market for personal information that can be abused in various other ways.

  • Check the email address

No officially authority will use a Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or free mailbox email address. Further to this, it is easy to display one name and the reply to address is different. If you click on the reply to button, and the address is different than the one you have received the mail, that is another waring signal. If no email address is displayed, double click on the email address to see what the actual email address is.

  • Do not open attachments

Sometimes email attachments contains small lines of codes that then enables hackers to access your computer. In some instances, they can transmit your information over an internet connection, activate your webcam and or computer’s microphone and in some instances, they can block access to your files and request a ransom to release your information.

  • Do not click on suspicious links.

Links that have a security certificate typically starts with https://. The s generally indicates a secure site. However, this is not the only safeguard. You should still consider the links and the contents of the emails before you click on them. You can set your browser settings not to allow automatic downloads, meaning that you will need to give explicit permission before any file can be downloaded. This will allow you an additional protection but is not a sure safeguard. You should thus exercise extreme caution before you click on any link.

  • Do not believe messages at face value

My favourite line on some of these scam mails is either the line that says this is not a scam, this is 100% guaranteed etc., or the one where they threaten you with legal action if you do not respond. Believing these messages at face value, especially if any of the above points has created some alerts for you, could cost your dearly.

Having the knowledge of possible risk factors and scams, will allow your clients to exercise caution and allow your clients to safeguard them in these difficult and desperate times. The golden rule of if it seems to be too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

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