Guiding consumers since 2009

How to avoid being a bank robbery victim

By Staff Writer

This week the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) issued a warning to consumers to be vigilant after a 54 year old woman was shot and killed outside an Absa Bank in Carltonville as she was about to make a deposit.


SABRIC warned that there may be an increase of such robberies ahead of the festive season and as customers pay the South African Revenue Services their taxes.


“These criminals work in organised syndicates and often these syndicates designate ‘spotters’ that look out for people making large cash withdrawals inside bank branches. Once the perpetrators identify their victims they pass on the information to their co-perpetrators who are usually in the vicinity of the bank and who in turn rob the individual, either at his place of business, home or en route to their destination,” said SABRIC in a statement.


“The violence and tragic consequences stemming from these attacks are indicative of how serious the problem of such robberies have become and it is with this in mind that we are appealing to bank customers to refrain from carrying large sums of cash in order to lessen their exposure to the risk of these attacks,” says SABRIC CEO, Kalyani Pillay.


Card fraud rife too
Gross losses from card fraud is on the decrease, however, millions of rands are still lost every year. According to SABRIC, Debit card fraud gross losses amounted to R204m in 2012, compared with R219,9m in 2011 (7% decrease), while the banking industry’s financial gross losses on credit card fraud decreased by 18%, from R367,4m in 2011 to R300,6m in 2012, for the first three quarters of the year.


Card skimming is one way to obtain someone’s card information. Card skimmers are devices that can be used by criminals to obtain card data. “When a criminal gets hold of a skimming devise, they can use it to ‘steal’ credit card details.


With a single swipe of the card, the details contained in the magnetic strip are stored on the device for later download to a computer. Skimmers can be installed on card slots of ATMs or a mobile device. The details can then be used to create a cloned or counterfeit card,” explains Bryce Thorrold, Visa head of country risk management for Sub-Saharan Africa.


Cloned or skimmed cards can be used to purchase a variety of goods. Usually the fraudsters will continue to shop until the card is blocked or maxed out. It is critical that consumers keep their card in sight whenever possible and regularly check amounts that have gone off their card.


Protecting yourself and your card information
So what can you do to make sure you don’t end up being robbed or a victim of fraudulent activity? There are many measures you can take, including:


1.    Keeping your PIN confidential. While this may seem incredibly obvious this advice still has to be listed as some customers have been found to be reckless with their card information. In response to an online survey conducted by Visa earlier this year, just over 50% of bank card users stated they keep their PIN confidential while 38% of the respondents admitted that one other person knows their PIN. And 20% of all respondents said they have written down their PIN, creating a high risk of card fraud.


2.    Being cautious when shopping online – make sure you are on a secure website and don’t buy from a website that you don’t know or don’t feel secure about.


3.    Don’t share personal information, including card details with anyone.


4.    Check statements and purchase amounts against receipts.


5.    Report lost or stolen cards to your issuing bank immediately.


6.    Sign up for email/SMS "transaction alerts" from your bank.


7.    Avoid counting cash or rummaging through personal items while standing at the ATM.


8.    Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN, and if you notice suspicious activity, cancel your transaction.


“It’s important to keep your card in sight whenever possible and regularly check amounts that have gone off your card. Remember that cash can’t be replaced when stolen, but one’s card can be cancelled and replaced with minimal effort or loss. Always contact your bank immediately when suspecting fraudulent activity on your account as this could result in limited loss of cash in your account,” adds Thorrold.






 

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