By Nico Strydom
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in more and more consumers turning to online channels to shop in a safer way.
Statistics show that online shopping for occasions such as Black Friday, Christmas and Valentine’s Day has also increased significantly compared to previous years. “What is of concern, though, is that statistics of the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) show that fraud where criminals pretend to be officials of a business or institution to deceive consumers increased by 337% in 2020. This means that criminals target their victims aggressively,” says Reana Steyn, the ombud for banking services.
Consumers are often unsuspecting victims when it comes to this type of fraud and only find out that they have been targeted when they discover the extent of the damage done by cyber criminals.
Steyn points out that it usually leads to a stressful situation for banks and consumers alike that try their best to manage the situation. “Unfortunately, we see many frustrated consumers who try to mitigate the damage caused by these criminals. Many consumers turn to their banks in a bid to solve the matter, but eventually they approach the ombudsman if matters cannot be resolved with their banks”.
Consumers must closely manage their bank accounts and relationship with their bank. The onus is on consumers to pay constant attention to the status of their bank accounts as it is your duty as the account holder to manage your financial affairs and not the bank’s responsibility.
“Account holders must actively participate in the management of their bank accounts. Unhappiness or concerns about an account must be reported to the bank immediately. However, this can only happen if the account is checked regularly, and the consumer is fully aware of the transactions that go through the account”.
Cyber criminals use phishing, vishing and smishing, among other things, to obtain personal information. “These e-mails, SMS’s and even calls are done in such a way that they appear as official communication from your bank. Criminals thus obtain the personal information of consumers and then use it to access your bank account”.
Steyn emphasises that a bank will never send a message or call a customer to obtain personal information such as your ID number, home address, bank account number or a one-time PIN needed to complete a transaction. “In such cases a bank representative will call you and ask you to go to your nearest branch to resolve a certain issue. Never provide personal information by e-mail, phone, SMS or WhatsApp. All banks have channels to report fraud.”
Tips on how to establish and maintain a sound and happy relationship with your bank, are the following:
- Find a bank and a bank account that meet your specific needs as a customer.
- Check your bank statements monthly or even weekly or daily and if you find any discrepancies report them immediately.
- Keep record of all signed documents and agreements entered into with the bank.
- Be aloof and remember that no legitimate business will ever ask you for your personal, sensitive or confidential banking information. Anyone who does so is probably trying to trick you. Report it immediately to your bank.
- Don’t give in to pressure – If someone is trying to force you to reveal sensitive information you should end the call immediately and contact your bank’s fraud department to report the incident.
- Stay calm and don’t panic. Contact your bank immediately if you suspect anything untoward.
- Always have your bank’s fraud department’s contact details or other contact details at hand so you can contact them immediately should you suspect anything untoward.
- Always have misgivings even if everything seems to be above board as it may well be a scam.
Ombud for banking services: https://www.obssa.co.za/