News in South Africa 29th May:

1. Scam warning:

While online and contactless payments have become the norm in South Africa, major banks are reminding consumers to be aware of common scams, as the number of victims of banking scams has seen an uptick in 2023.

Scam warning
Photo by Mati Mango

According to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), there has been an increase in banking scams this year, and several social engineering scams are currently of great concern.

Social engineering is a method used by fraudsters and entails psychological manipulation to deceive individuals and organisations into divulging sensitive information or performing specific actions, said SABRIC.

The centre added that social engineering in the form of Phishing, Vishing and Smishing are rampant at the moment and is used to obtain personal information, OTPs, and passwords to commit card fraud (specifically where the card is not present), account takeovers, and fraudulent transactions on digital channels.

Nowadays, exploiting the fact that almost everyone banks online has been criminals’ primary source of income.

Online banking fraud accounts for the second-highest percentage of gross losses, according to SABRIC’s most up-to-date report, with the average victim losing R33,781.

SABRIC outlines the common social engineering tactics to keep an eye out for:

  • Vishing is a form of attack where a cybercriminal uses voice or telephone-based communication to trick and manipulate individuals into divulging sensitive information or performing an action that can compromise their security.
  • Phishing is an online fraud in which the attacker sends fraudulent emails or messages to trick the recipient into providing sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card details, or other personal information. The emails or messages are designed to look like they are from a trustworthy source, such as a bank, social media platform, or other reputable institution, to convince the recipient to click on a link or provide information. Once the attacker has obtained the data, they can use it for fraud, such as identity theft or financial fraud.
  • Smishing is a cyber-attack that uses text messages (SMS) or other messaging applications to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information or downloading malware onto their mobile devices. SMishing attacks typically involve a message that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank, government, or service provider, which requests the recipient to take immediate action by clicking on a link, downloading an attachment, or responding to the message with personal information. Smishing aims to obtain sensitive information or gain unauthorised access to the recipient’s device.

Capitec also noted these scams as standard, adding that Vishing accounts for about 99% of its fraud cases in South Africa.

Standard Bank and Discovery Bank are others that highlighted Vishing as a concern. However, they flagged incidences where fraudsters call customers claiming to be from the fraud department – advising clients that their accounts have been compromised as they have noticed fraudulent transactions on the account and would like to assist them in reversing these transactions.

Standard Bank further noted concerns relating to malware or remote access.

2. Risk of stage 8 over winter:

There is an extremely high chance that the country will be subjected to Stage 8 rolling blackouts this Winter.

The embattled utility says it doesn’t have enough power as demand increases amid dwindling supply.

But the embattled utility insists there’s no chance of a complete grid collapse.

Loadshedding this week:

Stage 5 load shedding was implemented from 16h00 on Sunday (28 May) until 05h00 on Monday.

Thereafter, stage 4 load shedding will be implemented from 05h00 until 16h00, followed by stage 5 from 16h00 until 05h00 on Tuesday.

This pattern will be repeated daily until further notice, Eskom said.

Sunday, 28 May 

  • Stage 2: until 16h00
  • Stage 5: 16h00 to 00h00

Monday, 29 May 

  • Stage 5: 00h00 to 05h00
  • Stage 4: 05h00 to 16h00
  • Stage 5: 16h00 to 00h00

Tuesday, 30 May 

  • Stage 5: 00h00 to 05h00
  • Stage 4: 05h00 to 16h00
  • Stage 5: 16h00 to 00h00

Schedules 

For people living in the major metros, load shedding schedules are available here:

For access to other load shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available on loadshedding.eskom.co.za.

3. Insurers prepare for a total blackout:

South African short-term insurers “anticipate that we are going to have a grid failure” and are thus changing some of their policies and increasing premiums to protect their businesses.

This is according to Relebogile Mashego, the assistant ombudsman for short-term insurance, who spoke to The Money Show about how the industry prepares for a blackout.

Mashego said that short-term insurers are already struggling with the increased number of claims stemming from load-shedding.

A total blackout is unlikely, but it will be a “high-impact incident”. Thus, insurers have to prepare for it.

Such a scenario is not a normal risk for insurers but a high-risk one as it will impact the viability of their businesses.

A total blackout will impact everyone. Many clients – potentially everyone – will claim damages or losses simultaneously.

Insurers cannot cover such a high volume of payouts within a short time. Thus, such an event threatens the ongoing viability of their businesses.

South African insurers notably came under immense pressure during the July Riots of 2021 and the floods in Durban in 2022, which were unforeseen events impacting many clients.

Usually, in these cases, the state-funded South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) steps in to bolster private insurers and pay claims.

However, it has recently said it will not cover blackout losses. It then changed its tune to say that it would, in fact, cover losses from grid failure.

This uncertainty has led to many insurers planning for the eventuality that Sasria either does not step in, is unable to step in, or can only cover a portion of losses.

Measures taken:

Numerous South African insurance providers are now excluding damages related to a blackout in South Africa.

GIB sales operation consultant Guy Jameson says insurance companies have no choice but to view a total grid failure as an uninsurable risk.

“This decision has arisen as reinsurers have indicated they would not provide coverage in the event of a total grid failure,” Jameson said.

“This effectively leaves insurance companies with no option but to consider grid failure an uninsurable risk.”

4. Construction sector EE battle:

A battle is brewing between the construction industry and the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) over recently published regulations under the Employment Equity Amendment Act.

The regulations, published earlier this month despite a lack of consensus between construction industry associations, contain some controversial provisions.

These include:

  • The imposition of employment equity targets on various sectors of the economy;
  • Preventing a company that is issued with a non-compliance certificate (by employment equity inspectors) from bidding for public sector work; and
  • The alleged “double jeopardy” that will result if a company is excluded from bidding for public sector work if, during the previous 12 months, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), or the Labour Court has found it guilty of unfair discrimination.

Formal objection filed

Stefanutti Stocks CEO Russell Crawford said last week that the construction industry is preparing a submission to be sent to Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi, objecting to the Employment Equity Amendment Act “and the fact the targets set for the construction sector were set without any meaningful consultation or supported by scientific data”.

The amended act forces employers who employ more than 50 people to adopt more aggressive employment equity targets in their employment equity plan.

Prior to the amendment, employers were able to choose their own targets based on race, gender and disability provided the plan would result in reasonable progress to correct the effects of past and ongoing discrimination in the work place.

The draft regulations identify various economic sectors and proposes percentage equity targets for each, as envisaged by Section 15A of the act, with the progress of designated employees assessed on these set targets.

5. Water supply plan:

The City of Tshwane is setting aside R450 million for the next three years – R150 million per year – to upgrade the Rooiwal water treatment plant following the deadly Cholera outbreak in the Hammanskraal region.

Finance MMC Peter Sutton said that the city is allocating the biggest budget possible for the refurbishment.

On Sunday, the Gauteng Department of Health said that over 200 patients had been admitted to the Jubilee District hospital, with 48 confirmed cases and 23 deaths due to cholera.


All information sourced from articles posted by: ENCA, BusinessTech, DailyInvestor, Moneyweb, and Business Day.

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