Beware of your own bank

2013-08-15 00:00

IF you happen to lose money through Internet banking, don’t only think of criminal elements. It is worth checking if your very bank is not the culprit.

Tina van der Merwe from Durban, who is currently in Cape Town, learnt this on Friday evening when she processed three Internet payments. On Monday, Van der Merwe discovered that the transactions had been duplicated.

She phoned the Standard Bank help line, where she said she got no joy. She said she decided to go to the Tyger Valley branch where she was told the matter would be looked at, and was also given a reference number.

“After losing R9 000 through card phishing three years ago, I became more careful and am on constant look-out on the movements in my account. After reporting this to the bank I waited for a long time to get feedback,” she said about that incident.

She said she was only reimbursed R200 of the R9 000, but had since decided to let it go.

“The sad thing is that you phone the bank and they make you stay on the phone for a long time before getting back to you,” she said.

In the recent incident, Van der Merwe didn’t get an SMS notification about activity on her account.

“I still need to see if they will pay me the charge fees for the duplicated transactions,” she said.

Tashwill Daniels of the Tyger Valley Standard Bank branch yesterday e-mailed Van der Merwe, informing her that the transactions had since been reversed.

Daniels said he was still awaiting feedback from their IT department regarding the cause of the incident, and that as soon as the response was available, he would forward the details to her.

Banking ombud Clive Pillay said last year they received 810 Internet banking complaints from around the country. He said this was 19,6 % of all the cases reported to the ombudsman.

ATM fraud cases reported in the same period were 1 307, this being 31,6 % of all the cases reported.

“We don’t have specific statistics on how many cases emanate from each province in the country, but what we can say is that the highest number of complaints is received from Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

“Banks have a responsibility to safeguard client’s accounts. In terms of the Code of Banking Practice, banks undertake to provide reliable banking and payment systems and services and to take reasonable care to make these services safe and secure,” said Pillay.

He said should a client report fraud to the bank, the bank freezes the account in question and then investigates. The client is advised to open a case with the police. If the investigation proves that the bank was at fault, the client is reimbursed, but if the client is at fault, there would be no reimbursement.

“This is when some clients decide to bring the matter to the ombudsman.”

Standard Bank media relations manager Erik Larsen said they process hundreds of thousands of transactions daily.

“Cases like the one in question are more of the result of systems error. If these happen they are picked up immediately and sorted out,” said Larsen.

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