Banking errors: Are you giving your money away?

By Danielle van Wyk

How often have you skimmed over your bank statement and been confused about a certain amount that has gone off? Have you then followed up and made the effort to contact your bank to enquire?

According to the Ombudsman for Banking services (OBS) the number of online banking-related complaints that have been received and adjudicated, on an annual basis, was 1377 as recorded for 2017, and 1461 as recorded in 2018.

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JustMoney chatted to eight South Africans across banks to determine how often they check their account for possible errors.

Here is a breakdown of the responses:

How often do you review your bank statement?

How do you review or access your bank statement?

Have you experienced banking errors?

Do you feel confident in knowing what to look for when reviewing your bank statement?




No, I've never really been shown


ATM print out

Yes, overcharged by R100 for service fees

I'd like to think I do but no

3 times a month

ATM print out

Yes, I received a payment of R500 into my account


Every 3 months

At the bank branch


Yes, I've made a point to learn.




Yes, My dad taught me.


ATM print out


No, never learnt how.


At the branch

Yes, I was being overcharged for withdrawal fees




Yes, I was experiencing unauthorised debit orders



Results are in…

According to the above sample, two of the eight asked had never reviewed their statement.

Nedbank says that it has specific wording on its transactional bank statements where clients are encouraged to examine their statement upon receipt. It states: If no discrepancies or errors are reported within 30 days after receipt, we consider the statement to be correct.

The eight were further asked if they felt confident that they are able to correctly review their bank statement. Five of the eight said “No” and three said that they’d never learnt or been shown how.

What this implies is that even if they had the information presented to them, without the financial understanding of what to look for when it comes to possible errors, they could still be missing certain discrepancies.

While from a customer perspective the onus seems to fall on the banking industry to increase financial product education, the truth is that the responsibility ultimately lies with you, the customer, to ensure you put in the effort to educate yourself.

Whether it be by contacting or visiting your bank to understand your account and how much you should be paying towards service costs, or by doing your own research, you should make sure you know where your money is going.

When it came to the types of banking errors reported, the following were listed: being overcharged on service fees, unauthorised debit orders, and being wrongfully credited.

Similarly, Nedbank identified debit order disputes and service charge discrepancies as common errors. It also added that investment interest rate disputes and interest claims as well as penalties on home loans and bonds were also high on the complaints list. 

“This could be due to bank administrative errors, limited client education and awareness, communication challenges, system issues, and fraud,” says Nedbank.

OBS weighed in by adding that it receives an average of 593 banking-related complaints across all banking products and services each month.

“Statistically speaking the most frequent banking-related complaints reported stem from incidents involving internet banking, ATM usage, credit card accounts, current accounts, and personal loans,” adds Uzile Gugushe, PR and marketing manager for OBS.

She further says that the common thread seems to be fraud related.

“Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in deceiving customers to think that they are legitimate representatives of banks, and thus customers unknowingly divulge their personal banking information,” Gugushe states.

What can customers do to guard against banking errors?

Gugushe outlines the following:

  • Increase awareness of banking by familiarising yourself with the Code of Banking Practice and be fully aware about the contractual obligations placed on them.

  • Check your bank statements on a regular basis to be able to identify any discrepancies. If you’re unsure about what constitutes a discrepancy, contact a representative from your bank to walk you through the process.

  • Never divulge you personal information, like your PIN, to anyone - not even a bank representative.

  • Be aware of the risk measures entailed with every banking touch point you make use of, i.e. when using the ATM, ensure that it is in a safe and well-lit space, and ensure that the keypad is not exposed when inputting the PIN.

  • Ensure that you are logging into the correct bank website by typing it out on the search browser and ensuring that you see the security padlock on the browser.

  • Do not not click and input your banking and personal information on emails.

  • If possible, avoid using public or internet café computers to do your banking.

Taking the time to review your statement could be the difference between staying on top of your financial health and losing money unknowingly.

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