"Switched Off Cellphone" Scam Warning

Did you know that switching off your cellphone could result in you being robbed by a hacker who claims to be from your cellphone service provider? This is the new cellphone banking scam that has swept the airwaves this past week. This scam warning (posted on the My Broadband website) involves perpetrators defrauding banking clients out of their hard-earned cash just by switching off their phone for maintenance.

The Junk Mail team doesn’t want you to become the next victim to this scam or any other scam and this why we have taken the time to inform all of our fans about this ‘Switched Off Cellphone’ con. Even The South African Banking Risk information Centre (SABRIC) is urging all banking customers to be wary of this fraudulent ‘Switched Off Cellphone’ scam.


How does the ‘Switched Off Cellphone’ scam work:

Perpetrators are posing as a cellphone company representatives who aim to trick unsuspecting customers into switching off their cellphones, while they attempt to perform fraudulent transactions on the unsuspecting customer’s bank accounts. According to SABRIC, by getting banking customers to turn off their cellphones, customers do not receive any necessary communication or notifications from their banks during the time of the fraudulent transactions are taking place. Simultaneously, the perpetrators divert a customer’s landline to a member of their syndicate, who then poses as the you and authorises the fraudulent transaction.

All network providers have received plenty of incident reports where customers have been defrauded by this ‘Switched Off Cellphone Scam’, especially in cases where transactions involve stolen cheques. If you get a call from ‘your cellphone provider’ saying that they are upgrading their  mobile network systems or the conducting of routine network maintenance please ignore the call. The South African Banking Risk information Centre advises all banking customers to be cautious when divulging personal information to third parties and to use caution when presented with these types of telephone requests, as they are in no means true.

Vodacom says that they take any type of illegal activity that occurs on their network very seriously and that they do their best to prevent it. They advise customers to be aware and vigilant when it comes to any unusual activities on their cellphone accounts. The only time Vodacom would ask you to switch off your phone would be if you requested a specific service from us. For any unusual activity please call (082) 111 immediately.

MTN would like to urge its customers to be aware that MTN SA would only request a customer to switch off their handset if the customer has raised a query with MTN call centres directly. These issues are typically regarding a SIM or device related issue. If you suspect a scam please validate this by contacting the MTN SA Call Centre on 808/173/1555.

Cell C says that its call centre agents would never randomly contact a customer and ask them to switch off their mobile phones. The only time Cell C customers may be asked to reboot their phones is if they have personally contacted the call centre with a specific problem which necessitates a reboot. Cell C urges all customers to be wary of any random calls asking them to switch off their phones. If you suspect a suspicious caller please terminate the call immediately and contact our contact centre on 140 (from a Cell C phone) or 084 140 (from any other phone) with any information they can provide.

SABRIC and the mobile operators are working together to address this crime. Customers should become immediately suspicious when they receive a call from anyone requesting them to switch off their cellphones irrespective of the reasons given. Please call your respective mobile service provider and find out whether this call is true. Based on the statements from all the reputable cellphone networks it is better to ignore the call and report the scam to your service provider so that they can try and trace the call.

Remember, if you have information about a scam that could arm Junk Mail’s users with the right tools to defend yourselves against scams you are welcome to contact our Customer Care department telephonically on 012-3423840 x2295 (during office hours) or via e-mail at ccc@junkmail.co.za. To keep informed, check out the Junk Mail Safety & Security page for more information about scams that are doing their rounds.

Feel free to share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter if you’ve found this information useful. Remember: Sharing is Caring. Spread the word, it is the right thing to do.

Also feel free to check out these recent related scam awareness posts on the Junk Mail Website:

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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2 Responses

  1. A. Swart says:

    I tried to report a scam on a website but they want R250 to answer.
    I do not want an answer, I want someone to catch these people and stop these sms”

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