Tips for safe banking during festive season

Pretoria – With the festive season fast approaching, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has launched a safe banking campaign to empower people with information to ensure that they bank safely.

SABRIC says fraudsters take advantage of the fact that consumers receive bonuses, spend more money and are generally more relaxed because they are in holiday mode.

“The festive season typically sees an increase in the use of online banking and card transactions and SABRIC urges bank clients to take note of the latest crime trends so that they do not become victims.”

Although the advent of digital technology has seen an increase in electronic banking crimes, SABRIC still urged consumers to remain aware of other modus operandi at play, such as card fraud and phishing, both of which are on the increase. 

By interrupting or interfering with a bank client while he or she is transacting, cards are stolen, swopped or trapped in the ATM to be retrieved later by the fraudster.

“By covering the PIN when punching in the numbers, bank clients will be able to mitigate their risk, even if they are the unfortunate victims of card theft.

“Bank clients are urged not to accept any assistance or allow anybody to interrupt or interfere with them at ATMs while transacting,” said SABRIC CEO Kalyani Pillay.

Although fraudsters still make use of phishing, there has been an increase in what is known as vishing, which is the telephone equivalent. A fraudster phones their victim posing as a bank official or service provider and uses social engineering skills to manipulate them into disclosing confidential information, while at the same time, leading them to believe that they are speaking to the bank or service provider. This information is then used to defraud the victim. 

SABRIC advises that banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone.

“If you receive a phone call requesting confidential or personal information, do not respond and end the call,” said Pillay.

Tips to do safe mobile banking

  • Protect your phone content and personal information you saved by using a PIN or password to access your phone. Do not leave your phone unlocked.
  • Memorise your PIN. Never write it down or share it with anyone and make sure no one can see you entering your PIN.
  • If you think your PIN has been compromised, change it immediately.
  • Do not respond to competition SMSs or MMSs.
  • If you receive a phone call requesting personal information, do not respond and end the call.
  • Never access your banking site on a public Wi-Fi network – it’s not secure and your credentials could be hacked. Rather disable Wi-Fi and switch to a cellular network option.

Tips to do internet banking safely

  • Do not do your banking on a public or unfamiliar computers found at libraries, cyber or internet cafes and hotels.
  • Beware of fake anti-virus software that is offered at no charge, as it could contain malware.
  • Do not use unknown devices such as USB flash drives on your system, as they may transfer malware unwittingly.
  • Register for your bank’s cell phone notification service and receive electronic messages relating to activities or transactions on your accounts as and when they occur.
  • If reception on your cell phone is lost, immediately check what the problem could be, as you could have been a victim of an illegal SIM swap on your number. If confirmed, notify your bank immediately.
  • Inform your bank should your cell phone number change so that your cell phone notification contact number is updated on the banking system.
  • Remember to log off immediately when you have finished banking.

 Tips to use cheques safely

  • Check the payee, amount in words and figures carefully for alterations.
  • Be on the lookout for stamps that are placed over areas that could conceal alterations.
  • Be suspicious if the cheque appears faded, as chemicals could have been used to remove information.
  • Shaky signatures could indicate that the signature was traced.
  • Write clearly and neatly using a non-erasable pen. The type of pen you use makes a difference. Most ballpoint and marker inks are dye based, meaning that the pigments are dissolved in the ink. But, based on ink security studies, gel pens, like the Uniball 207, uses gel ink that contains tiny particles of colour that are trapped into the paper, making cheque washing a lot more difficult.

When accepting a cheque make sure that:

  • It has not been altered.
  • It isn’t post-dated.
  • It is signed.
  • There are no dirty marks on it.
  • The same pen has been used throughout.
  • The handwriting is the same on all parts of the cheque.

 Tips for card holders:

  • When shopping online, only place orders with your card on secure websites.
  • Do not send e-mails that quote your card number and expiry date.
  • Ensure that you get your own card back after every purchase.
  • Destroy your credit card receipts before discarding them.
  • Never let your card out of your sight when making payments.
  • Sign your card on the back signature panel as soon as you receive it to stop anyone else from taking ownership or trying to use it.
  • While transacting, always keep an eye on the ATM card slot to ensure that your card is not taken out, skimmed and replaced without your knowledge.
  • Should an ATM retain your card, contact your bank and block your card before you leave the ATM.
  • Subscribe to your bank’s SMS notification services. This will inform you of any transactional activity on your account. 

Tips to use ATMs safely

  • If you think the ATM is faulty, cancel the transaction immediately, report the fault to your bank and transact at another ATM.
  • Avoid ATMs that are dimly lit or surrounded by loiterers and never allow your children to draw money using your card, since they are the most vulnerable to perpetrators.
  • Choose familiar and well-lit ATMs where you are visible and safe.
  • Report any concerns regarding the ATM to the bank. Toll free numbers are displayed on all ATMs.
  • If you are disturbed or interfered with, whilst transacting at the ATM, your card may be skimmed by being removed and replaced back into the ATM without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction immediately and report the incident using your bank’s Stop Card toll free number, which is displayed on all ATMs, as well as on the back of your bank card.
  • Should you have been disturbed while transacting, immediately change your PIN or stop the card to protect yourself from any illegal transactions occurring on your account.
  • Don’t use ATMs where the card slot, keypad or screen has been tampered with. It could be an attempt to get hold of your card. –


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