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Protect your money from phishing as scammers pose as SARS!

by , 08 July 2013
'Dear Taxpayer, thanks for completing your return! Your 2013 tax refund is R9,435. Simply reply to this email with your bank or credit card details so we can deposit your refund right away.'

Emails just like this one are catching out thousands of people. But it's a scam designed by fraudsters to capture your bank details and empty your accounts! Don't be a statistic! Learn how to spot phishing scams, and how to protect yourself...

Now that the 2013 tax season is in full swing, there have been a record number of tax phishing scams by fraudsters posing as SARS, report Fin24 and FSP Invest. The tempting lure of a juicy return is enough to trap plenty of unsuspecting people into a scam.

What is phishing?

Scammers try to lure innocent Internet users into giving them precious information such as banking details or passwords. They do this by posing as legitimate institutions such as a credit card company, retailer or SARS. They ask you to reply to the email with sensitive details, or forward you to a fake web page where they will capture your information.

How you can spot a tax phishing scam…

It's important to arm yourself with the skills to quickly spot a phishing scam, and not only during tax season. The University of Chicago lists these warning signs:
  1. If you're not addressed by name in an email from a company that should have your name (e.g. 'Dear Taxpayer' instead of 'Dear Robert')
  2. If you notice blatant spelling and grammar errors (this means the email was written by an amateur rather than a professional who works for a big institution like SARS)
  3. If the 'From' address is suspicious or generic (for example, SARS would never email you from sars-efiling-help@gmail.com)
  4. If the 'To' address is left blank, or has a huge number of addresses
  5. If you are promised a lot of money for very little effort

Fin24 reports that this year, SARS scammers have been getting even more sophisticated by quoting refund numbers that are very close to the amounts people have previously been refunded.

But even if the tax phishers know more about you than you'd like, you can still protect yourself by never responding to these emails. They'll never get your details if you don't volunteer them. Never click links or reply to these emails, simply mark them as spam and move on!

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