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Article by: Durban Umhlanga Attorney: Fawzia Kahn

As the December holiday season draws closer and we all become engulfed with what appears to be an avalanche of holiday specials offered to us as consumers, it is also time that many con artists are poised and waiting to separate us from our hard earned cash.

It’s always good practice to simply delete all unsolicited emails especially when it says you have won an amazing prize, inheritance or any other such nonsense. However scammers seem to become even sophisticated in their ability to rip off the unsuspecting consumer. On 8 December 2017 the Law Society sent out an email warning that an SMS, which was being circulated particularly in KwaZulu-Natal asking citizens to appear before the High Court, was fake. The SMS said: “You are to appear before the high court on 07/12/17”. It also directed the person to a particular link on the Internet for more information. Needless to say once you go onto the fake link, your personal details could then become compromised or worse.

Some tips to protect yourself from these scams include the following: Don’t be pressurized into making a decision right away. Give yourself time to think about whether or not you really do want or even need that particular product or service being offered. A student at UNISA told me how she was unduly influenced into providing her bank account details to a man who told her she qualified for a free one-month’s gym membership. He convinced her that no money would be deducted from her account but that the only way she could qualify for the one-month free membership was to show proof of a bank account. Off course her bank account was debited every month thereafter.

Be conscious of where you store your personal information. In terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), your personal details are not to be divulged without your consent. Don’t release your personal details to anyone unless you are sure who you are dealing with. Check out airlines and travel offers before making payment. Do an online search on the company or product you wish to purchase before paying. See if there are complaints lodged by others. The caller identification you see on your phone may be fake. Don’t be fooled into releasing personal information without first verifying who it is you are talking to. Be wary of “too good to be true offers”, as very often they are.

The Law Desk of Fawzia Khan & Associates. Giving YOU the Power of Attorney. Email for legal assistance at competitive rates.