Sneaky impostors, parking at ORT and Xmas insurance: Wendy Knowler’s 'watch-outs of the week'

Don’t buy anything online before spending a few minutes checking out the website.
Don’t buy anything online before spending a few minutes checking out the website.
Image: 123RF/Olivier Le Moal

In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:

Beware the sneaky impostors

“You better watch out

You better not buy (too fast)

You better have doubt

I'm telling you why

A helluva lot of fraudsters are waiting to bring you down ...

They see you when you’re too trusting

They know when you’re awake ...”

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. It pains me that so many people are falling for the fraudsters’ awful trickery.

Please, please don’t buy anything online before spending a few minutes checking out the website. Putting the retailer’s name plus the word “spam” into a Google search is a good place to start. Then look at the payment options and if EFT is the only one, back away, fast.

Also, this can be a hard time of the year to get urgent help from your bank or cellphone service provider, and the fraudsters are happy to exploit that.

Recently Cheryl of Johannesburg, a Capitec account holder, realised that her banking app wasn’t working. The next day she went into a Midrand branch to query this and was told her software had to be upgraded and that could take a week.

Unhappy, she made several posts on “Capitec’s Customer Service” Facebook page and was asked by a “helpful” agent to move the chat to WhatsApp. And that’s how Cheryl handed all her personal banking information to a fraudster, and lost R13,000 as a result.

Capitec won’t compensate her, because she did what banks have been warning people not to do for years now — she gave her PIN to “bank staffer”.

They pretend to be Capitec and then request clients to divulge their PINs. With Facebook’s help, we have closed more than 200 of these accounts, but every morning there are new ones.
Charl Nel, Capitec head of marketing and communications

The bank’s head of marketing and communications, Charl Nel, told me that the bank is being plagued by fraudulent Capitec accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

“They pretend to be Capitec and then request clients to divulge their PINs,” he said. “With Facebook’s help, we have closed more than 200 of these accounts, but every morning there are new ones.”

The bank also posts warnings on Twitter and sends its clients SMSes urging them to look at the profiles critically and only engage with the bank on its official Facebook group/page — the one with the blue verified tick.

“Sadly, some clients do not heed these calls,” he said. “It’s a major problem.”

Even if you post on a company’s genuine site, a fraudster can come looking for you.

“They monitor our official Facebook page and if a client makes a post they contact them, pretending to be with the bank and wanting to ‘help',” Nel said. 

More like help themselves to their victim’s money.

Never ignore a parking sign at ORT

Park in the wrong place at ORT Airport — that is, anywhere on level 2 —  and after just a few days away, you’ll return to a parking ticket running into the thousands. 

This has been catching people for many months, but Acsa remains of the view that its signage is perfectly adequate.

On December 16, the De Wet family parked their car there, as they’ve done many times in the last 20 years, and flew to Cape Town.

When they returned five days later — this past Monday — they inserted their parking ticket and the amount due was beyond belief — R6,060. That’s because the entire level 2 is a not-for-overnighting zone. Parking is charged at an eye-watering R60 an hour. That’s been the case since April this year.

“When I went to enquire I was told that I should have been aware of the R60 per hour charge,” De Wet said.

“There is also no maximum amount per day to ensure that a reasonable amount is levied, and there is also no escalation process at the parking office and no ability to state your case. 

“I was told to ‘pay or live at the airport’.”

Airport spokesperson Samukelo Khambule said the hefty fee is disclosed in many ways: a large sign at the entrance to level 2, on the boom, and via a recording played at the ticket dispenser.

De Wet said the sign was obscured by a car to the left of them and they didn’t hear the recording — perhaps because the radio was on.

Well, if complaints sites are anything to go by, many people have been making that very expensive mistake since April when the new arrangement came into effect.

So how about printing the R60 an hour fee on the parking ticket, in large letters, so that people can move their car to avoid a parking fee shock. Or have someone stand at the ticketing machine and warn people that’s it’s essentially a massive pick-up or drop-off zone?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. But is there a will to stop that handy revenue stream?

Don’t forget to insure those Christmas prezzies

If you get a new cellphone, gaming console or TV for Christmas, don’t forget to update your insurance policy to reflect that.

And while you’re at it, update all your information — your new address, if you’ve moved; even a change in your marital status. Your policy requires you to keep your insurer informed of all such changes so that they are able to accurately assess your risk, and adjust your premium accordingly.

Don’t give them any “outs” at claim time!

CONTACT WENDYE-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za Twitter: @wendyknowler Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer


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