Myth, busted: the missed-call scam

Warnings of a “one-ring scam” in which telephone customers return hang-up calls from foreign phone numbers, only to find they’ve been charged hefty fees and have their details stolen, are only partly true.

Although returning the call can cost some serious money, rumours are rife that these calls can somehow result in your list of contacts being downloaded or your banking details being compromised. This is fake news.

The scam
Telephone customers return one-ring calls from foreign phone numbers and are charged hefty fees.
This scam has been brought to the fore recently by news networks like MyBroadband and The Citizen, while providers such as Vodacom and MTN have sent customers warnings.

South Africans who received missed calls from as far afield as Guinea returned the calls, only to find that they have been billed exorbitant amounts, even if they were only on the line for a short time.

“Someone just told me she called back a missed call from Guinea and got charged R780 for a few seconds!” social media law specialist Emma Sadleir reported on Twitter.

MTN told MyBroadband that this is the resurgence of an old scam that originated in Japan known as Wangiri.

Wangiri literally translates to “one and cut”, implying that the phone is allowed to ring once before cutting the call.

Computers randomly dial numbers and drop the calls in the hope that unsuspecting victims will return them, only to be billed at premium rates.

“Our investigation has found that some of these numbers are designed to prolong customers to stay longer on the line by a recorded ring-tone or a long recorded message,” MTN says.

Vodacom sent out an advisory about the surge in Wangiri fraud, and told its clients not to return calls from unknown international numbers.

Fact versus fiction
Here’s the fact and the fiction surrounding this scam.

False: Returning a “one-ring” foreign call will enable scammers to download your contacts list and access your financial account information.
This is an impossibility. The only way this information can be compromised is if you provide the scammer with it.

True: Phone scammers sometimes lure potential victims through the use of “one-ring hang-ups”. Numbers can be set up to charge a premium fee, and when calls are returned unsuspecting victims are billed exorbitantly.
Scammers may also use their wits to elicit sensitive and confidential information from victims, such as financial details.

Origins
The “one ring” telephone scam is similar in form to the venerable 809 area code scam in that both involve trying to dupe unwary phone customers into calling a foreign phone number in order to stick them with hefty charges. While the 809 scam involves sending pages, faxes, voicemails, or e-mail messages that supposedly relay important information (e.g., news about a distressed family member or a notification of prize winnings) in order to lure the recipient into calling a provided phone number, the “one ring” scam employs a simpler technique: the scammers place calls to blocks of phone numbers (sometimes with the use of robo-call devices), disconnect each call after a single ring, and hope that the owners of some of those numbers will be curious enough to call back.

Dubbed “one-ring hang-ups,” the scheme targets millions of mobile-phone lovers. Unscrupulous operators make thousands of random calls from normal phone lines, letting the phones ring once before hanging up. They count on inquisitive folk, or those anxious not to miss a single call, ringing back the number shown on their screens.

Once hooked, the victims of the “one ring” scam are supposedly separated from their money through a variety of means: keeping them on the line for as long as possible while they rack up international call tolls, duping them into unknowingly calling premium-rate phone numbers (akin to the 900 Pay-Per-Call services), or enticing them into signing up for pricey services. As with the 809 scam, however, it appears that the prevalence of the one-ring scam and the potential damages its victims might suffer are considerably lower than the circulated warnings about it often suggest.

It’s certainly not true, as stated in the example cited above, that the mere act of calling a particular number would allow a phone user’s contacts and banking information to be stolen by someone else. That sort of information would be compromised only if another party somehow hacked into the user’s phone (via a malicious app or other code) and/or the user actively did something to enable access to it. (In either case, there’s no obvious reason why such a scheme would require the victim to place a call to the information-stealer rather than the other way around.)

Some versions of this warning maintain that “You may also be charged a monthly fee for joining some club you know nothing about. By calling the number, you ‘authorize’ them to place a fee on your cellphone bill.” However, it seems to be more the case that victims aren’t subscribed to services simply through the act of calling a phone number, but rather that the scammers use social engineering techniques (including harassment) to persuade them to subscribe to pay services or give out their credit card information.

Those who do [call back] find themselves listening to advertisements for all sorts of dodgy services. Some firms try to hook callers into subscribing, say, to high-priced chat-lines or Internet services. Others dupe callers into providing credit-card numbers. Using caller-identification in reverse helps to harass more users. Some victims decide it is easier to pay than face fresh hassles. Even if only a small fraction are snared, it is still a lucrative ploy: their own charges are small since they never give their quarry a chance to answer.

Other versions of the warning caution that cell phone owners who return one-ring calls are charged $19.95 for an “international call fee” and then a “$9.00 per minute charge” on top of that. But Sprint currently lists its standard rate for placing calls from U.S. cell phones to the countries mentioned in the above example (Belarus and Latvia) at between $2.65 and $2.69 per minute (and as low as $0.41 to $0.43 per minute if the caller subscribes to an international long-distance plan), so a victim who returned such a

call and stayed on the line for a couple of minutes before hanging up might realistically be out $5 or so in toll charges. Phone customers can generally get any “premium service” (i.e., “international call fee”) charges tacked on to such a call reversed by contacting their phone service providers and documenting the circumstances of the call.

Many forms of this warning list specific country/area codes that phone users should never place calls to (because of their association with various phone scams), including 473 (Grenada), 268 (Antigua), 876 (Jamaica), 809 (the Dominican Republic), 375 (Belarus), 371 (Latvia), and 284 (the British Virgin Islands). There is, of course, nothing wrong with connecting to numbers with these country/area codes if you happen to know whom you’re calling: all cautions regarding the one-ring scam (and similar schemes) apply only to solicitations to contact entities unknown to you. If you have to call a number associated with a dialing code that’s unfamiliar to you, you can use a code lookup site to check it out first.
Do not return phone calls from foreign numbers you do not recognise. If the person on the other end is legitimately looking for you, the chances are they will not hang up are one or two rings, and they will leave a voicemail message.

By Barbara Mikkelson for Snopes; Jan Vermeulen for MyBroadband

Sanlam warns of personal loan scam

Scammers are getting increasingly bolder in their methods to dupe consumers.

In the latest incident, financial services giant Sanlam has warned on Friday that a false entity is using its name to flaunt personal loans to consumers.

The false entity, called “Sanlam Loans SA Pty”, is circulating personal loan offers to consumers under the Sanlam brand name, using a fake logo and contact details and presents clients with a “guaranteed” loan offering of 4.5% return.

The return will supposedly be in the form “of personal, commercial, leasing, debt consolidation and home loans”.

Sanlam said it strongly disassociates itself from these loan offers and has no connections to Sanlam Loans SA Pty.

Sanlam’s loan offer is managed through Sanlam Personal Loans (Pty) Ltd, a registered credit provider.

It said its Forensic Investigations unit is investigating these offers and discouraged all clients to refrain from acting on the offer.

Sanlam is not the only company being targeted by scammers at the moment. Fin24 reported recently about a loan scam which falsely claimed to be on behalf of Wonga.com.

Wonga.com South Africa warned consumers against this loan scam after it became aware of people offering loans to consumers under the Wonga company logo, registration number and NCR number.

Consumers were urged to remain vigilant against personal loan scams and other forms of phishing by fraudsters.

Statistics released by the South African Anti-Phishing Service in 2013 indicated that the country is the second-most targeted country for phishing scams in the world.

In addition, the financial surveillance department of the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) said it has seen a notable increase in advanced fee scams (also known as “419” or “Nigerian letter scams”) in SA over the last few years, particularly through the use of mobile phones.

In the Wonga.com scam the criminals sent consumers emails claiming to be from Wonga, offering them (fake) loans with unrealistic interest rates.

Once a recipient contacted the scammers, they were requested to provide personal information and to deposit various amounts of money into different private bank accounts.

This continued along with repeated requests for an advance fee payable, and the victim never receives the loan funds.

Wonga.com warned that it does not offer business loans and the only way to apply for a real Wonga loan is via the Wonga.com website – never by email or SMS.

In addition, Wonga offers a maximum loan of R2 500 for first time customers. Wonga will never request any payment upfront for a loan.

To opt in or opt out: a guide

Introduction

Previous legislation and regulations prior to the arrival of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in 2013 required organisations undertaking electronic direct marketing in South Africa to provide the opportunity for recipients to unsubscribe from further communications (commonly referred to as opt-out). According to the Internet Service Provers Association (ISPA), an authoritative industry source, “this was true under section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA, #25 of 2002), but this will be repealed by section 69 of the POPIA once it is in force [expected to start with a transition period that comes into effect late in 2017 or early 2018].” Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA, #68 of 2008) follows in the footsteps of the ECTA by providing that you may refuse to accept, request the discontinuation of (opt-out) or pre-emptively block direct marketing communications, and that any opt-out or pre-emptive block must be respected by marketers, have their receipt confirmed in writing and that the exercise of these right must be performed free of charge.

POPI Act definitions

POPIA defines direct marketing as approaching a data subject (which could be an individual or organisation) either in person or by mail or electronic communications, for the purpose of promoting or offering to supply goods or services to the data subject, or asking them to make a donation. Electronic communication covers a wide variety of methods, including text, voice, sound, image over an electronic network. So this covers use of all the popular methods used today and probably some we are not yet familiar with.

Records of consent and withdrawal of consent for electronic direct marketing

Section 11 of POPIA makes it clear that the Responsible Party (the body doing the direct marketing) must keep adequate records to prove informed consent has been voluntarily given. Records should also be maintained where consent has been denied or is later withdrawn. Consent may be obtained via verbal or written means. The interpretation of voluntary consent in other countries suggests poor practice is to pre-tick or pre-select opt-in choices. Rather the data subject should be presented with an open option to provide consent (e.g. an empty, not pre-ticked, box).

“Section 69 of the POPIA [Direct marketing by means of unsolicited electronic communications] places significant limitations on the circumstances in which a party may engage in direct marketing by means of unsolicited communications by requiring individuals to have either consented to the use of their personal information (opt-in) or for there to be an existing relationship between the parties. An existing relationship between the parties is itself subject to additional limitations and does not result in a freedom to make repeated advances” says ISPA (for more on ISPA visit www.ispa.org.za ).

A request for consent may only be submitted to the data subject once (section 69(2)(a)(ii). However it is not clear whether this “one time opportunity” applies where the data subject moves to a new or different organisation and therefore could be deemed to have a different set of marketing needs. If this is interpreted as one-time-ever then a unique identifier would be required to ensure compliance. It is not sufficient to ask for general consent for marketing. Section 13 requires that “personal information must be collected for a specific, explicitly defined and lawful purpose”.

Section 11(3)(b) of POPIA makes it clear that a data subject may object to any form of direct marketing, not necessarily electronic; section 11(4) clearly states once the data subject (which may be an organisation or juristic entity to use the legal term) has objected, the Responsible Party may no longer process the personal information, by implication for direct marketing, whilst by implication processing may continue for other specific purposes.

Records of consent and withdrawal of consent for non-electronic direct marketing

The rules for opt-out seem to be common and clearly stipulated, whether for electronic or traditional mail. When it comes to consent traditional mail does not merit a specific mention under opt-in. By default permission (consent) should be obtained at the first contact, which may be a first mailer. It is tricky to see how the refusal of consent can be achieved at no cost to the data subject. There also appears to be no limit to the number of mailers that can be sent before consent is denied as the “only once” clause only applies to electronic communication. In summary, some careful wording of your invitation to give consent or withdraw consent would appear to allow an unlimited number of postal mailers to be sent so long as no objection is received.
Role of the Direct Marketing Association South Africa (DMASA)

For any organisation that is engaged in direct marketing activities in South Africa it is recommended that consideration is given to adhering to the DMASA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The DMASA is also known to be developing a Code of Conduct under the POPIA. The DMASA also manages the National Opt Out Database. Registering on this database will mean that individuals will not be contacted by members of the DMASA.

Summary

We are in the early days of understanding the full implications of the impact of the POPIA on direct marketing activities by whatever means. Organisations that take action now to review their policies and procedures will give themselves a competitive advantage by being better prepared to anticipate how to better address the rights of their key stakeholders, such as future and current customers, and demonstrate both legal compliance and good governance, all of which will lead to enhancement of their reputation in the marketplace.

* This article does not constitute legal advice but is based on a practical interpretation of the requirements of the POPI Act.

By Dr Peter Tobin

Unemployment pressures tempt fraud

With unemployment at its highest level, the youth are anxious, agitated and searching for creative ways to earn a living.

“In this environment, you cannot write off the temptation that confronts young people to commit fraud, when doors slam shut in their faces or do not even open in the first place,” says Manie van Schalkwyk of the South African Fraud Prevention Service.

The obvious temptation is CV doctoring, he says. By adding a few tweaks, candidates may make their application appear more professional than they actually are and increase chances for a job interview.

“Qualification fraud is simple enough to perform and with any luck an applicant may land an interview, even a job offer. But a few months into the job the employer will begin to wonder why the candidate’s skills and abilities do not match up to the qualifications he or she has presented on their CV. Questions will be asked. “When you are exposed as a fraud, you will have a criminal record,” Van Schalkwyk says.

For young people who are employed who wish to apply for store cards, credit cards or any type of credit, there is the temptation to stretch the salary or the length of time spent in a particular work place to increase their chances of credit approval or credit limit. Van Schalkwyk says, “Falsifying this information constitutes fraud.”

At another level, one of the first goals of a newly graduated student is to learn to drive and get a driver’s licence. So, they may be driving around in their parents’ or older sibling’s car, or they may have a car of their own.

In this case, the individual may wish to have car insurance. After phoning some insurance companies they may learn that their premium is higher than expected because of their lack of driving experience. They will persuade their parents to front for the policy, so that the policy is held in the parent’s name. This is falsely representing information as the younger person will be the primary driver of the vehicle being insured.

“A common illustration of this is alternative fact information given about who the regular driver of a vehicle will be,” says Deanne Wood, short term insurance ombudsman. “Older drivers pay significantly lower premiums than younger drivers.” The difference in premium can be significant.

“Certainly, significant enough to encourage consumers to provide inaccurate information about who the regular driver of a vehicle will be,” Wood says.

“Our office sees far too many claims being submitted where, for example, parents have represented that they will be the regular driver of a vehicle when in fact the vehicle was purchased by them for use by their child.

“Paying the lower premium is all well and good until a loss is suffered. Simple desk-top investigations using Facebook or other social media searches can all too easily reveal misrepresentations made by consumers who forget to cover their tracks when making misrepresentations to their insurance companies,” Wood adds.

Van Schalkwyk says, “Like all fraud, it’s only a matter to time until the perpetrators will be found out and could face prosecution. Starting out in a career with a criminal record is no way to build a future. I urge youth to stay on the right side of the law despite the many challenges of the current economic climate. Don’t put further obstacles in your path.”

The stats of the nation

In the midst of all the chaos and depression around us, we must appreciate the fact that we have still been able to keep some world-class institutions running. One of these is Stats SA, which is right up there with its international peers. Regular visits to its website will show you why that is: the amount, depth and breadth of information is quite something.

In the past few days, three critical pieces of information from Stats SA were drowned out by the ugly, rotten politics. They all related to issues that are key to the lives of South Africans: crime, governance and jobs.

Crime is higher than ever

The first one, titled Exploring the Extent of and Circumstances Surrounding Housebreaking/ Burglary and Home Robbery, looked at these crimes that terrify South African citizens. It noted that, although the proportion of households experiencing this crime that “violates our private space and the one place that we think of as our sanctuary” has been on the decline for five years, public perceptions were the opposite.

Differentiating home robbery (a break-in while the family is there) from housebreaking (burglary), the report says the former “fuels fear in communities, because it puts people at risk of personal injury and emotional trauma in their homes, where they should feel safest”.

Then came the really frightening part, which painted an appalling picture of the arrest and conviction rates.

“An arrest is made in only one out of every five reported cases of housebreaking or home robbery. Only one in five people arrested for housebreaking was convicted, and one in three people arrested for home robbery was convicted,” it stated.

Unacceptable vacancy rates

The second report, The Non-financial Census of Municipalities, contains some disturbing information about the vacancy rates in municipalities that cannot afford to be short of service-delivery personnel. Overall, the vacancy rate jumped from 13.3% in 2015 to 14.4% in 2016. Last year, the most affected areas in terms of unfilled vacancies were environmental protection at 26.1%, road transport at 22.3% and wastewater management at 19.9%. What was worrying was that only health – at 10.9% – had a vacancy rate of less than 12%. Crucial functions such as electricity (13.7%), water (13.6%) and finance (12.9%) had unacceptable vacancy rates.

Such high vacancy rates when positions are fully funded affect service delivery and increase the reliance on outside consultants, the report noted. By way of illustration, it pointed out that in Vryheid – which experienced a severe drought in the year in question and had to employ water tankers – the vacancy rate is 30.5%. Rustenburg’s wastewater management stood at a staggering 69%. Road transport, which is often the cause of community grievance, turned up some alarming numbers. In Mangaung, 74% of vacant posts were unfilled and Masilonyana (also in the Free State) stood at 69%. Although the vacancy rate in electricity came down from 20.2% to 13.7% last year, it is still considered high.

Unemployment crisis

The third was the release of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which revealed that South Africa’s unemployment rate now stood at 27.7% – its highest since 2003. Ironically, this was in the quarter in which 144 000 new jobs were created in the economy, a number offset by the entry of 433 000 jobseekers. The survey said 58% of these new jobseekers were between 18 and 34 years of age, thus pushing the youth unemployment rate to 38.6%.

The unemployment rate among those without matric was 33.1%, while among graduates, it was 7.3%. If you use the expanded definition of unemployment by including those who have just given up on looking for work, the figure goes to 36.4%, almost a 10% increase. And if you want it in raw figures, we are talking about 9.3 million South Africans who cannot find work.

Why, I hear you ask, are we talking about such seemingly mundane matters when there are so many more fascinating subjects, such as Duduzane’s complicated love life and the saucy pictures that dropped into his inbox? Why should we be concerned about boring issues when there is such scintillating stuff in the political world – from emails to motions of no confidence and a president who threatens his executive not to “push him too far”?

Well, it is because these are the issues that should be consuming us. In a society that is serious about solving problems, the content of these reports would spell crisis in capital letters. A citizenry that lives in constant fear in a free country is not enjoying its freedom.

Municipalities and government departments that deprive residents of quality services because they are unable to fill vacancies are also depriving people of the tangible fruits of freedom.

The same can be said with regard to the unemployment crisis, which deprives families and individuals of a decent standard of living.

There has to come a time when these are the big issues on the minds of South Africans, both in the state and outside of government.

But then, as the Zuma/Gupta mafia is busy plundering, the country has no choice but to be consumed by their criminal behaviour.

By Mondli Makhanya for News24

Fraud alert warning from retail stationer

A local retail stationer has contacted My Office News with a warning of attempted fraud.

The instance began with a request to quote on Monday 15 May 2017 from a certain “George Miller” of Quality Service cc.
He requested a quote for two taping applicator systems and 1 000 PVC 70mm lever arch files.
The retailer immediately became suspicious, as clients usually approach a wholesaler directly for that quantity of stock.
The retailer then began to research the company and discovered that the company name did not match up with the phone number provided.
However, the retailer e-mailed the quote to the address provided and thereafter received a purchase order with an address listed in Bellevue East.
When the retailer googled the address, it was for Raleigh Court in Yeoville/Bellevue East.
The retailer then confirmed with “George Miller” once again via e-mail that full payment was required, and they had to collect from the retailer’s offices once the order was ready.
Following that, the retailer received a proof of payment (POP) via e-mail that looked nothing like other POPs received from Standard Bank:

The retailer then sent all the evidence to the bank. A representative from Standard Bank’s Fraud division responded, saying “We would recommend that no goods released and also no services be rendered as the proof of payment is not valid. If you would like to pursue the matter, you may report the suspects to the SAPS in order for them to continue with investigating the individual.”

Please be wary when receiving large orders from unknown customers.

Terrorists get SA passports

Fifteen unused South African passports, some containing pictures of South Africans on an international terrorist watch list, have been seized from an al-Shabab courier in Tanzania.

A police crime intelligence source told The Times that at least one of the passports, some of which had visas for European countries, contains a photograph that might be that of international terror fugitive Samantha Lewthwaite, also known as “the White Widow”.

The passports were seized from a man believed to have dual South African and Tanzanian citizenship. Officers from the Hawks’ crimes against the state unit and State Security Agency were dispatched to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania.

The team returned last week after interviewing the alleged courier and examining the passports.

Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi refused to comment on the circumstances of the arrest, the charges the man faced, and whether he would be brought back to South Africa.

He said the Hawks were alerted after the man was found in possession of a “number of our passports”. The matter was receiving “serious” attention in both countries and at Interpol.

“This is very worrying,” said Johan Kruger, head of the UN’s eastern Africa drugs, transnational crimes and terrorism programme. “We are focusing on strengthening our capacity in eastern Africa around terrorism prevention. This includes crimes related to terrorism such as the use of illicitly obtained travel documents, fraudulent travel documents and terrorism financing.”

The arrest is a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism in Africa. According to Hawks sources, it will help in anti-terrorism operations under way in South Africa.

A Hawks source said the suspect had been under observation after Tanzanian authorities were tipped off about his arrival in Dar es Salaam. The officer, who cannot be named, said it was understood that he was due to deliver the passports to another al-Shabaab operative when he was arrested.

‘White Widow’ trail has gone cold: Kenya police
“All of the recovered passports are legitimate. They contain the images of several South Africans on international terror watch lists. Among the photographs is one of a woman who might very well be Lewthwaite.”

Lewthwaite, a UK citizen, lived in South Africa between 2009 and 2011 under a false South African identity. She fled South Africa on a fake South African passport.

She has been linked to numerous terror attacks, including the Westgate Mall assault in Kenya in 2013.

Her husband, Germaine Lindsay, was one of the suicide bombers involved in the 2007 London bombings.

In 2015 it was reported that Lewthwaite had been killed in the Ukraine, but Hawks sources say the latest arrest suggests that she is still alive.

White Widow’s Joburg love story
Questions are now being asked about how the passports, which are not forgeries, came into the possessin of Islamic terrorist group al-Shabab. Applicants for a South African passport must submit biometric data, including fingerprints.

Home Affairs spokesman Thabo Mokgola refused to comment.

A police crime intelligence source said the 15 passports were issued recently. He said they contained pictures of terror suspects wanted in Europe and Africa who were believed to be linked to al-Shabab.

He said the courier had numerous links to Lewthwaite. He used the same networks as she while in South Africa to obtain passports.

“He is also believed to be linked to an al-Qaeda operative killed in Mali early last year. That man was also found with South African passports.”

‘White Widow’ linked to hits
The source said the authorities, through Interpol, were investigating the suspect’s movements into, out of, and around South Africa.

“He has been placed in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. His travels from South Africa to Tanzania, and the people he met travelling to Dar es Salaam, are being investigated.”

Koffi Kouakou, of the Wits School of Governance, said the “wealth” a passport provided was immeasurable.

“It’s a powerful key. South Africans can travel to scores of countries without a visa.”

He said the fact that the suspect was arrested with so many passports called into question the security of South Africa’s passports.

‘White widow’ passport probe
“It shows South Africa’s security cluster systems are compromised. The only way such people can access our passports is through corrupt officials,” said Kouakou.

Terrorism expert Jasmine Opperman said members of al-Shabaab and Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram in South Africa all had access to genuine South African passports, for which they paid up to R60,000 each.

“It’s exactly how Lewthwaite travelled,” said Opperman.

SA probe into ‘White Widow’ passport ongoing
Opperman said interviews she had with Boko Haram and al-Shabab operatives showed that although South Africa was, for now, regarded as a base at which to recoup from, finance and plan terrorism attacks, the country was vulnerable to exploitation by extremists operating in Africa and the Middle East.

By Graeme Hosken for www.timeslive.co.za

Social media could impact your insurance

Using your phone for social media while driving could be considered reckless behaviour by an insurer, giving the insurer the right to decline a claim in the event of an accident, said a legal expert.
Maria Philippides, director of insurance litigation at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, explained the legal implications as well as consequences for insurance cover where reckless behaviour is related to the use of social media.
She referred to a recent report in the UK where a woman was jailed for using Facebook when she caused a car accident. Philippides explained to Fin24 how a case like this could possibly be handled locally.
In South Africa, the use of a cell-phone while driving is prohibited by the road traffic regulation. This is not just limited to talking on one’s phone, but also holding a phone or other communicating devices when driving, explained Philippides.
If caught by authorities when doing these activities, one could be liable to pay a fine. In the instance that this behaviour leads to something worse like an accident causing death, one can be charged for culpable homicide, she said. “If convicted, it would carry a jail sentence.”
Insurance policies are designed to cover the insured for their negligent behaviour. But there are policy provisions which explain when insurers do not pay out claims. This is either when the claims arise from a criminal offence, such as using your phone when driving, explained Philippides.
The other instance when a claim is not paid out is if the policyholder does not act with “due care” to avoid an accident or loss or damage, she added. In this case the actions go beyond negligence and are viewed as being reckless, she explained.
A court would test for recklessness in terms of the person being aware of the risk that would result of their conduct, and still continuing with the action regardless. In that case the insurer will be able to reject the claim, she said.
“If you are operating your cell-phone, which you know is illegal or an offence … and your attention is not on the traffic and the road ahead of you, [with your head] looking down. That can be termed as reckless.”
Drivers have an imposed duty by the national road traffic act to be engaged with driving, explained Philippides. If you are engaged in an activity “so removed from your duty to drive properly”, no matter what it is, including applying make-up in traffic, it is reckless, she emphasised.
Wearable devices
When asked about how operating wearable devices, such as smart-watches, while driving may be viewed by insurers, Philippides acknowledged that the law was struggling to keep up with the pace of changing technology.
“Law can’t keep up with every single device that gets created… There is no specific prohibition on a person using a smart-watch,” she said.
However even though there is no prohibition in law for using a device, insurers can reject a claim if the use of the device can be classified as reckless, she explained.
Philippides pointed out the innovation of smart windscreens, where a navigation panel comes up on the windscreen when driving. Even if this innovation is legal, it is possible that insurers may view the use of this navigation while driving as reckless.
Proving use of social media
If a policyholder does not accept that their claim was declined, the matter can reach the courts. It is up to the insurer to make the allegation and prove that the policyholder was using their device when driving. Philippides explained that the insurer would have to get evidence of the use of the device. This could be witness statements, the police report and possibly cell-phone records to prove the use of the device coincided with the time the accident was made.
The records could show when data was used, or when phone calls were made. Activity logs from social media, with permission from the policyholder in the case that he or she has privacy settings, can also be used to prove use of a device, she added.
Failure to submit this information can lead to an adverse inference by the courts, indicating that the insured possibly has something to hide.
Something as simple as liking a page at a time that coincides with the timeframe of an accident could implicate the policyholder, said Philippides. “It shows attention was diverted from driving.”
“The ordinary person on the street does not realize that what they are doing while operating on social media is accessible to anyone. If it is publicly available, anyone can use it, the right to privacy is basically waived.”

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24

Simple fraud questions MTN and Cell C cannot answer

Many South Africans have lost money through Internet banking fraud, with victims blaming their mobile operator for not protecting them against illegitimate SIM-swaps.

News reports emerged in 2016 that a crime syndicate had infiltrated the mobile operators and was performing SIM-swap and Internet banking fraud.

Continue reading

Fraud, dishonesty on the up as economy faulters

First Standard & Poor, now Fitch have rated the South African economy “junk” with huge ramifications for South African citizens, with the poorest of the poor being the worst affected, economists agree.
Manie van Schalkwyk, executive director, of the South African Fraud Prevention unit said there would be much less money going around, a severe lack of international investment and potential job losses.

Continue reading

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