Protect your ATM and credit cards from fraud

2010-12-11 08:54

The golden rule is to treat your card like cash and never let it out of your sight. Never give your PIN to anyone, even someone who appears to be a bank ­representative. No banking personnel have reason to know your PIN. Don’t let your family members and friends use your card, either, as they may not be as careful as you are.

According to Du Toit, the most common fraud is card skimming at ATMs or points of sale. When you go to an ATM, check it for suspicious devices. A high-tech skimming device will allow your PIN to be viewed by either camera or Bluetooth device, so be extra careful at ATMs and put your hand over the keypad when ­entering your PIN.

Another trick is for fraudsters to tamper with an ATM so you can’t insert your card. The fraudster will then “help” you by “cleaning” your card and skim it in the process. These fraudsters will pose as bank employees.

The fraudster skims your card by swiping it through a ­tiny device the size of a ­matchbox that reads the data from your card. It is so quick you don’t even notice it. The fraudster then unjams the ATM and obtains your PIN by ­looking over your shoulder (“shoulder-surfing”).

Although credit-card fraud is actually down, losses caused by it still amount to about R50 million a year, according to the SA Card Fraud Forum – no small amount!

The four major banks lose about R5 million a month and Visa’s global losses are about $2 billion a year.

As with debit cards, credit-card fraud extends to card swapping, skimming and ­simple theft (bag-snatching, or stealing cards from cars – smash-and-grabs are common – or houses).

Improve your cellphone banking safety
Cellphone banking is so convenient you can do everything from buying airtime and transferring money to paying your store or electricity accounts. More people are choosing cellphone banking as their preferred method of banking and it’s quite safe provided you take the necessary precautions and “be vigilant”, says Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO of FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions.

First and foremost, protect your phone. Never store your cellphone-banking PIN on your phone. Also, try to change your PIN regularly.

Choose a PIN that is fairly complicated – “12345” is easy to guess! Note that your bank will NEVER ask you to divulge personal information.

“Smishing” is a scam that fraudsters love – they send out random SMSs asking for personal banking information and wait for a bank client to respond. The SMS seems to be legitimate, so we reply, giving out our sensitive banking information.

These are the simple rules:
» NEVER respond with personal details to a number provided in the SMS and never reply to an SMS that appears to come from your bank (or any other bank). Contact your bank immediately and report the fraud.

» NEVER respond to an email that threatens to close your account or suspend your account.

» NEVER access any link to your bank’s website, rather save the address and access the site from the saved address.

SIM swaps are also used by fraudsters. A SIM swap allows networks’ customers to use their original cellphone number if their SIM is lost.

Contact your service provider to make sure an unauthorised SIM swap has not been done on your number. If it has, tell your bank, so you can make sure the number is blocked.

If at any time you think your cellphone banking has been compromised, contact your bank immediately.

Ensure your bank has all your updated details and should you wish to change your details note that your bank will only do so after a verification process has been completed.

Ramlakan concludes that consumers should take advantage of value-added services from their banks such as the FNB inContact service.

This service is a free instant SMS service that notifies a customer each time their card is swiped or cash over R100 is withdrawn from their account.How to protect your card
» Don’t allow anyone to assist you at an ATM and make sure you never let your card out of your grasp or someone may attempt a card swap.

» When you’re at a till point, keep your card in sight and make sure the cashier gives you the right card once you’ve finished shopping. The elderly are particularly at risk here – if you can, accompany your grandparents to ATMs and till points. They are easy targets.

» If you think someone’s seen your PIN or swapped your card, cancel the card. That way, they can’t access your funds, even if they use the card.

» If you are robbed, you need to cancel all your cards, including your garage and store cards, immediately, so nobody else can use them.

» Banks are working on ways to combat fraud through chip and PIN cards. Instead of signing a till slip, you can key in your PIN, which is stored on a microchip in your card.

If this PIN matches the one stored, you are verified as the card’s rightful owner.

Although most merchants will still insist on your signature as verification, PIN-compliant terminals will ask you to key in your PIN instead.

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