Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
5 minute read
5 Jan 2022
6:01 pm

Don’t lose your last few January Rands to these loan scams

Ina Opperman

Do you know how to spot a loan scam when you get an offer for a loan on email?

Image: iStock

An email from DirectAxis offering you high loan amounts and very low interest rates right as we enter January probably sounds too good to be true, which means it definitely is and consumers have been warned not to hand over their confidential details to allow someone to part them from the money they have left over after the festive season.

The email, which has been doing the rounds for a few years now, definitely looks like the real thing at first glance. The sender appears to be DirectAxis, and you may have been thinking of getting a loan to tide you over until the financial hangover of December has passed.

But wait! Your name does not appear at the top, the letter is full of really bad spelling and grammar mistakes, and wait for it… you must reply to a Gmail address and send all your personal details to get the loan.

Yes, that red light that started flickering in your head was your scammer sense, and it was absolutely right.

It is from a scammer who wants to steal your identity, which is why DirectAxis now also warns consumers on its website not to fall for this kind of scam, which appears to be making a resurgence.

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How to spot a loan scam

Not all scams are obvious and could be disguised as an email or SMS from a well-known brand. DirectAxis says you can spot a scam by checking these things on the email:

  • An incorrect or old DirectAxis logo is used
  • You are not addressed by name
  • The loan amount is unrealistically high
  • The interest rate is unrealistically low
  • Poor grammar and spelling mistakes
  • The brand name, DirectAxis, is written Incorrectly as Direct Axis
  • A suspicious email address is used to send the email to you and for your reply.

DirectAxis warns consumer that regardless of how complex the scam is, most scammers focus on getting your personal details to steal your identity, trick you into paying to access your “winnings” or “loan”, or obtain remote access to your bank accounts.

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Upfront fees

A scam involving the payment of upfront fees is also very common and can appear in many forms, such as a loan offer, winning a competition or lottery, an inheritance or a refund.

The scammers usually ask you to pay an upfront fee to ‘release the funds.’ The fee could sound quite official, such as an admission, approval, local agent transfer, administrative fee, attorney fee, or local agent transfer fee.

Protect yourself by looking out for a fantastically high loan amount that often runs into the millions or unbelievably low interest rate offered. As soon as you pay the required fee, the scammers disappear.

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Identity theft scams

Identity theft scams are very similar. In order to claim your prize money or inheritance, you are asked to send your personal and banking information to ensure your ‘prize’ money or inheritance is deposited into your account.

Scammers who want to steal your identity usually ask for copies of your ID, passport, driving licence, payslip, utility bill, and account and bank statements. They then use your personal information to open bank or store accounts and take out loans in your name, which you can end up being liable for.

ALSO READ: Identity theft can happen to you too!

Remote access scams

Other scammers are after getting remote access to your personal and banking information, and use software programs to take control of your computer remotely and access your personal information and banking profile.

Some of them will even call you to offer help to block fraudulent transactions by downloading protective software onto your computer. After downloading, they prompt you to log into your online banking profile.

This is when you start receiving OTPs on your phone to confirm transactions you know nothing about. The scammer will ask you to forward the OTPs to him to enable him to ‘block’ the transactions for you, and use the OTPs to process the transactions and defraud you.

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Beware of these loan scam tricks

We all know someone who has been scammed in one of these ways. How do you spot one? DirectAxis says you should be on the lookout for these common methods scammers use:

  • Promises of large sums of money without having to do much for it, such as clicking on a link or downloading an attachment
  • You have to pay an upfront administration or processing fee
  • You have to provide sensitive personal or account information
  • The communication is from an unknown sender or someone you never dealt with
  • If you fail to respond soon the offer will expire
  • You are instructed to keep the communication confidential
  • Bad spelling and grammar
  • It sounds too good to be true and yes, it is.

You can protect yourself against scammers by:

  • Protecting your personal information
  • Keeping your passwords and PIN numbers in a safe place and not sharing them with anyone
  • Not sharing your personal information on social media sites
  • Not granting anyone remote access to your computer
  • Not opening suspicious texts and pop-up windows
  • Not clicking on links or attachments in emails
  • Never sending money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you do not know or trust
  • Ensuring messages from businesses are legitimate
  • Checking for security devices on websites and social pages, such as padlocks and verification ticks/marks
  • Not accepting messages or emails from a friend that seem unusual or out of character even if it is on social media
  • Being cautious about answering a message or email you did not ask for
  • Being wary of unusual payment requests, such as MoneyGram payments

Report suspicious emails or SMSs from DirectAxis to the company’s fraud department at fraudqueries@directaxis.co.za.