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Digital Fraud in Zambia

…a focus on the last three months as the survey shows

TransUnion Zambia, in its newly conducted survey, has indicated that digital fraud attempts were a pressing issue for Zambian consumers in the last three months.

The report, dubbed “Consumer Pulse Study for Quarter 2” showed that 76 percent of those surveyed reported they were targeted by such schemes in the last three months, although they successfully avoided falling victim.

Before we get into detail, let us first look at what digital fraud is. Digital fraud happens when someone uses a computer or other device with access to the internet to deceive or abuse web-enabled assets, usually for financial gain.

Digital, internet, or online fraud is when hackers and fraudsters use the internet to defraud victims of their money or information.

Internet fraud is increasing year-on-year with attacks and breaches becoming more and more sophisticated.

Getting back to the survey conducted by TransUnion, only 15 percent were unaware of any attempts, while nine percent became victims in the last three months.

The most common types of fraud schemes picked by the survey included money/gift card scams, “smishing” (fraudulent text messages aimed at tricking the recipient into revealing personal data), and phishing or vishing scams (one in three consumers).

Smishing was reported most frequently by Millennials and Baby Boomers; the latter also reported a higher occurrence of vishing attempts at 56 percent.

Digital fraud covers all online fraud such as phishing scams, identity theft, online impersonation, ransomware attacks, and porting. The latter consists of hackers transferring your mobile phone number from one service provider to another to access your personal and financial information.

Internet fraudsters are generally out to get your money, but they can also be angling for sensitive information. For individuals who have been defrauded through an online scam, this can be upsetting and financially worrying.

For businesses, digital fraud does not just siphon away your hard-earned profits: it can negatively affect the brand reputation that you spent time, effort, and money building.

The TransUnion survey indicates that 95 percent of Zambian respondents expressed apprehension about sharing personal information.

The primary reasons for concern were fears of privacy invasion and receiving unsolicited marketing communications.

This finding underscores the critical necessity of strengthening security measures and fostering trust in financial transactions and interactions.

According to the survey, digital fraud posed a considerable challenge. The good news however is that an alarming 85 percent of consumers were aware of fraudulent schemes directed against them in the past three months.

There are a variety of reasons for the increase in online fraud. For example, the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a steep rise in scams and cyberattacks.

Opportunistic fraudsters took advantage of the chaos imposed by the crisis, such as creating phishing websites and sending out scam emails and texts.

Electronic commerce has also been gradually shifting online. At the same time, there are more and more e-commerce platforms popping up, meaning that fraudsters can create a fake website and the customer is none the wiser.

Of course, bad actors are also becoming more sophisticated in their tactics, outsmarting businesses and customers.

Digital fraud can however be prevented and here is how. Through phishing attacks, identity theft, and malware, online thieves pick the digital pockets of both individuals and companies, stealing money or information.

Keep your information safe by limiting how much you share it. Only provide it when necessary.

It may feel normal to provide your first and last name and your address when creating an account somewhere, but if there is a security breach on the website, the information could fall into the hands of fraudsters.  

Be vigilant with what you share on social media, too. Using fraudulent messages that appear to come from trustworthy sources, a scammer could try to obtain your personal information.

This is called phishing; it is one of the biggest issues when it comes to Internet fraud and is often done through email, text message, or by phone.

For targeted attacks, cybercriminals also use social media. The personal information you share on your account (your identity, but also your workplace, your birthday, and your interests) could help increase the credibility of a phishing attack on you.

This is called social engineering. To avoid this kind of intrusion, check your privacy settings (by default, your profile may be public) and beware of fake or unknown profiles.

Using your usernames and passwords, a cybercriminal could access your accounts and commit Internet fraud.

Your login information could also be sold to other cybercriminals on the dark web, an unregulated part of the Internet that is often associated with illegal practices.

To protect your login information from getting stolen, create a strong password unique to each account and enable two-factor authentication whenever it is offered.

Where possible, protect your home computer by keeping your software and antivirus up to date.


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