Guiding consumers since 2009

Internet banking complaints on the rise

By Danielle van Wyk

The surge of internet banking claims and scams are no secret, this confirmed by the increase in internet banking complaints received by the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) last year.

“In 2016 we received 205 more internet banking complaints than in 2015. Interestingly, the majority of the internet banking complaints were cell phone banking complaints, which increased by 7%. This suggests increased cell phone banking activity, but also a need for greater security,” stated the latest version of the OBS report.

The main scamming culprits were phishing, cell phone transactions and SIM card swaps, added Ombudsman Clive Pillay.

“Although internet banking cases accounted for 20% of our caseload, ATMs remained at the top of the complaints list, as has been the case now for many years. Encouragingly though, we saw a drop in ATM complaint numbers of more than 300, which we hope is an indication that card users are becoming a little more vigilant and aware of the need to pay full attention when transacting in a public place,” Pillay highlighted.

Overall, almost 200 more cases were opened in 2016 than in the previous year, but despite having fewer staff, their record increased for cases closed within four months to 96%, 2.1% up on 2015. “‘Days to closure’ improved considerably, from 61 days in 2015 to just 52 days in 2016. All cases were closed within six months,” Pillay said.

While these statistics indicate a move in the right direction, scamsters are finding more intelligent and legitimate looking ways to defraud consumers.

OBS has for this reason beefed up their complaints mechanisms, with the introduction of a telephonic complaints system, their website and a new mobile app.

“Our first development was the introduction of a dedicated telephone complaints system, whereby a complainant explains to a consultant the nature and details of his case. These are then captured, a case opened and a reference number issued immediately. In addition, complainants are now able to keep tabs on their cases, through the new OBS tracking system. Mobile technology being a feature of daily life for almost all South Africans, we have also launched a mobile app service, which, when downloaded, enables consumers to complete the application for assistance form on their smartphones. They can then submit the form at the touch of a button,” Pillay explained.

This, while they have also retained their traditional methods of lodging complaints – namely website, email, fax, post and hand delivery. Consumers are encouraged to lay complaints with OBS, and can do so via their website or alternatively by calling 011-712-1800.

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