Consumer Law > Problems in Consumer Law > 16. Cell Phone Scams, E-Mail Scams and Card Cloning
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16. Cell Phone Scams, E-Mail Scams and Card Cloning


You get a telephone call from a so-called bank official. S/he explains that the bank needs to transfer your money to an account which will be safe, and gives a good reason for this. You are asked to confirm your ID and account number. Then your money gets transferred out of your account, never to be seen again.


There are a number email scams (called phishing), for example:

  • You get an e-mail from your ‘bank’ asking you to click on a link to update or confirm your personal details. Often the message would say that it is because the ‘bank’ picked up a fraudulent transaction on your account.
  • An email pretends to be from SARS, saying SARS owes you money and wants to pay you back, but needs your banking details in order to do so

Clicking on the link will take you to a website that looks exactly the same as that of your bank’s or SARS’s. When you enter your details you are in fact giving them to the fraudsters.


Card cloning can happen when, for example, you hand over your card to pay for petrol at a garage or a meal at a restaurant, or when you draw cash from an ATM. Criminals attach a card ‘reader’ to the card machine or ATM to copy the details on your card. They then transfer those details to a blank card using special equipment.

What Can You Do?
  • Never confirm your personal details over the phone or by clicking on an e-mail link. None of the banks (or SARS) will ever phone you or send you an e-mail asking you to confirm your details. If you fall victim to such a scam it could be very difficult for you to claim your money back, because the banks could say that you were negligent in giving out your personal details.
  • Never let your card out of your sight – rather ask for the card machine to be brought to you
  • In some instances (like when you buy something over the internet or over the phone) the number on the back of your card will be needed to complete the transaction. Write this number down and keep it in a safe place (just as you would with your PIN), and black out the number on the card itself. This helps to protect you against fraud in the event that your card is lost or stolen.