A new WhatsApp scam is circulating on the popular messaging platform, offering a fraudulent South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant application for R700. This apparent phishing scam is currently spreading across WhatsApp, targeting unsuspecting users.
How the Scam Works?
The scam message reads:
“The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) R700 Grant Application Form 2022/2023 is Out. The online registration exercise, which is the quickest to apply for, is now out for all bonafide citizens only who need helping hands in their various activities.
All South Africans under the age of 18-65 years can apply.
Over 55 000 citizens received a R350 fund grant in 2020/2021due to covid.
In 2023 Over 675 000 citizens will receive R700 payments.
The Payments have just begun for all applicants. Register To be Part of the Beneficiaries.
Check Eligibility and Apply here.
Of course, the South African government has not made any such R700 grant statement publicly. Despite this, unsuspecting users who fall victim to the scam face risks to their personal and financial information.
Dangers of Clicking Links
Users are strongly warned not to click on any links in these messages, as this could be used to steal personal information or infect devices with malware. The links likely lead to phishing sites impersonating Sassa and designed to trick users into inputting sensitive data like usernames, passwords, ID numbers, and more.
This data can then be used for identity theft or to access victims’ bank accounts and commit financial fraud. The malware downloaded from clicked links can also allow hackers to spy on users through their device’s camera or microphone.
An Ongoing Issue
Unfortunately, this SASSA scam is just the latest in a long trend of fraudsters impersonating the agency. In July 2022, SASSA warned beneficiaries about scammers advising them to open accounts with specific banks and claiming the SASSA card would stop working.
SASSA affirms it will inform beneficiaries directly through official channels about any payment changes. Scammers frequently exploit lack of public awareness around actual policy changes to make their cons more believable.
How to Avoid Falling Victim?
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of these WhatsApp scams is to remember that Sassa will never request personal information over SMS or WhatsApp. Additionally:
- Do not click on any links in unsolicited messages claiming to be from Sassa, even if they appear official. Verify information directly with Sassa before providing any data.
- Beware requests for private data like ID numbers, bank account details, passwords, PINs, etc. Sassa will not request these over chat.
- Look for spelling/grammar errors and other signs of phishing attempts. Legitimate agencies will not have glaring mistakes.
- Install antivirus software and keep devices updated to detect and block malware.
- Report suspicious messages to Sassa, cybercrime authorities, and WhatsApp. Spreading awareness helps protect others.
Protecting Yourself from Fraud
Safer practices when using WhatsApp and other platforms include:
- Maintaining privacy settings and being selective with sharing personal information
- Enabling two-factor authentication wherever possible
- Using strong passwords and updating them regularly
- Backing up data offline in case of device infection
- Checking sites are HTTPS secure before entering any sensitive data
What to Do If You Suspect a Scam?
If you receive a suspicious message claiming to be from Sassa:
- Do not click on any links or provide personal information
- Report the scam to Sassa immediately
- Warn your WhatsApp contacts to beware similar messages
- Change passwords and enable two-factor authentication if you did click any links
- Run antivirus scans to check for and remove malware
Reporting scams helps Sassa and cybercrime authorities protect others and build cases against fraudsters. Be vigilant and warn those less technologically savvy who may fall victim more easily.
Official SASSA Contact Information
For accurate Sassa information and to report scams:
- Visit the Sassa website
- Call the Sassa Fraud Hotline on 0800 601 011
- Email [email protected]
- Visit nearest Sassa office
Sassa emphasizes it will directly inform beneficiaries through official channels if there are any payment changes. Remember to never provide personal details over WhatsApp or SMS. Spread awareness to protect yourself and others from fraudsters misusing Sassa’s name.
Hello, I’m Dumisani Joubert, a passionate writer and advocate based in South Africa. With a deep commitment to providing accessible information, my website serves as a reliable resource for all things related to SASSA grants, offering valuable insights and guidance to empower individuals and communities.