Heard on the street

2019-01-18 17:47


The finance ministry has warned the public about scams that purport to be communication from it.

In the latest of these scams, a person purporting to be the deputy minister of finance has been asking people on Facebook for money in return for funding their projects or business plans.

The person also asks for people’s full names, ID numbers and home addresses.

Neither the ministry nor National Treasury assists individuals or businesses with funding for their projects or businesses.

The ministry reiterates that such scams can only succeed to the extent that members of the public have an unquenchable thirst for easy wealth. Those who are forever looking for opportunities to make easy money become the prey of such scammers.

How do you recognise a scam?

  • . The email requests bank account information, credit card information, your driver’s licence number, passport number, information about members of your family, as well as other personal information;
  • . The email or SMS advises that you have won a prize, even though you are not aware of having entered any competition run by the prize promoter;
  • . The email may be personally addressed to you, but it has been posted using bulk mail sending facilities to many others locally and internationally;
  • . Suspicious wording on the correspondence – you may notice spelling errors and exaggerations, which should alert you to the offer being too good to be true;
  • . Logos of the organisations mentioned in the letter, such as the prize-givers, may not seem correct or professionally drafted; and
  • . The names of persons used as senders of the emails are common.


After an extremely tough last year, it seems as though many South African consumers are really struggling financially and need to seek urgent help, even though it’s only the second week after the festive season.

Benay Sager, chief operations officer of DebtBusters, the country’s largest debt counsellor, says: “Our January started with a bang.

“We’ve seen a spike in consumers seeking assistance and a solution to cover their living expenses, as they cannot afford their debt any more.

“As last year was already a financially challenging year, with the country going into a technical recession, as well as a VAT and interest rate increase, it seems like for many consumers the recent festive season was the straw that broke the camel’s back and forced them to seek urgent intervention.”

DebtBusters’ statistics coincide with findings published by the National Credit Regulator recently, showing that although the number of credit agreements per client has been flat or even less than previous years, the value per agreement – mainly for unsecured debt – increased substantially over the past two quarters.

“This is quite an important trend we are picking up on; consumers in the higher income spectrum need to apply for bigger amounts in personal loans or credit cards to get by financially,” Sager says.

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May 19 2019