New Year means new scams for the unscrupulous and downright evil Singaporeans!
One thing we can always count on, is that someone out there is getting scammed right now. But with the right information, vigilance and tech know-how you could reduce the number of times you’re scammed to zero.
So what’s the new modus?
More effective scams are able to lull you into a false sense of security–and this scam starts with that. It also requires that transactions are verified through a PIN code sent to the mobile number associated with your bank or payment facility account. In this case, the scammer used BOKU.
Here’s how it goes:
- An anonymous number texts you impersonating a friend or relative. Sometimes, a stranger adds you on Facebook and chats you up to gain your trust.
- You receive a text message from a payment facility or a bank that provides a 3 or 4 digit PIN code.
- The scammer chats you up again and asks for the PIN code. Sometimes, they make several attempts to fulfil the transaction so that it really does look like they’re making a mistake a you need to help them.
- You trust them and send on the PIN code.
- They are able to verify the transaction on their end and have used your account to pay for goods and services.
Basically, they buy or sign up for good and services using your account number on a payment facility. When BOKU or the payment facility asks for the PIN code, they try to make you tell them when it’s sent to your phone number. When you’ve sent the PIN code, the transaction goes through.
Here’s what those text messages could look like. Take note that these are legitimate and standard texts from BOKU, and they require all transactions to provide this code. The scam happens when you release this code to the scammer.
In this particular transaction, the scammer was buying a game or game credits. This scam has been used before to pay for mobile phone bills.
More sophisticated scams even include actually using your friend’s number or Facebook account! This scammers hack Facebook accounts and look for easy marks on the hacked user’s friend list.
But if the scammers are lucky (and you’re completely out of luck), they can do much worse with your PIN code. With enough information, your credit card and account numbers, along with your PIN number and three-digit code at the back of your card, they can even do the following:
- Max out your credit limit with big ticket items that you can never get out of paying.
- Take out car loans, home loans and other types of loans.
- Close your account and take all your cash.
So what do you do to avoid getting scammed with this new text message phishing scheme?
It’s inevitable that someone will try to scam you. But if you’re able to do the following, the likelihood of getting duped becomes smaller and smaller.
- Change your passwords and PIN codes regularly.
- Don’t add people on your social media accounts unless you know them personally.
- Don’t send PIN codes, verifications codes or any sort of code to anyone–even if you think it’s your friend, relative or significant other.
- Enable two-step verification on all your accounts.
Don’t be a victim of this scam or any sort of scam!