Fraudsters are on the prowl, watch your money, bank warns

By Al Qalam Correspondent

Stepping-up personal security by members of the public is of paramount importance in the ongoing battle against crime in South Africa.

This was the hard-hitting message by Aasiya Jamal, Al Baraka Bank’s Senior Manager: Electronic and Transactional Banking Division, who stressed: “The year-end holiday period may be behind us, but that does not mean people should become complacent about their safety. Now, more than ever and in the face of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects, we need to guard against becoming a financial crime statistic.”

She advised people against carrying large amounts of cash at any time and encouraged the use of bank cards for purchases, as being more secure. She also suggested that should clients wish to withdraw cash, they have the option of making such withdrawals at major retail stores, which is a more affordable option than using Automatic Teller Machines, or ATMs. Al Baraka Bank clients also have the option of depositing cash at Pick ’n Pay or Boxer stores, making it convenient to deposit cash outside banking hours.

She added that phishing, smishing and vishing were all ways in which fraudsters attempt to gain the bank details of individuals.

“People need to be extremely wary of this. Vishing occurs when a scammer contacts you by phone , phishing by email and smishing by SMS. Banks will never ask you to disclose your PIN , so if asked for this by someone purporting to be a bank official, decline and report the matter to your bank. Commonly, scammers claim to be from the fraud department, explaining that your account may have been defrauded and then request that you share your bank details and or PIN or OTP,” said Jamal.

Scammers claiming to be from a bank’s fraud department, usually explain that they have detected fraud on your account and need your bank details or an OTP to help them stop the fraud.

The bank’s Marketing Manager, Yunus Paruk, warned the public to be extra vigilant when using ATMs.

“Always avoid using an ATM in isolated areas or where the lighting is poor, always shield the keypad when entering your PIN, preventing those behind you from ‘shoulder surfing ‘ to gain access to your PIN and never allow anyone to assist you with your transaction. Crucially, if at any time you feel unsafe at a crowded ATM, leave immediately,” he stressed.

Paruk added that should a bank card be retained by an ATM, one should never leave the machine until having received confirmation from the bank that the card has been blocked.

“In addition, you should never let your bank card out of your sight when transacting in shops or at filling stations. Tricksters are extremely quick at swopping cards. Card swopping remains a major problem. If you are making card-based payments at pay points in shops or at filling stations you should insist on inserting and removing your card yourself. Avoid allowing shop assistants or fuel attendents direct access to your card. This – from a health perspective – is all the more important in today’s world of COVID-19,” he said.

Jamal said: “Banks care greatly about the financial well-being of their clients and with necessary COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is all the more important now that we all – bank officials and members of the public – work together to protect our hard-earned money, while making a positive contribution towards eradicating financial crime by being ever more vigilant.”

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