Online fraud, complaints from Gauteng top banks ombud's list

Most complaints (22%) received by the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) in 2017 related to online banking.

Cellphone banking and phishing fraud made up 77% of these internet banking cases.

This shows a need for increased security measures for online banking, according to Banks Ombud Reana Steyn.

The second highest number of complaints (18%) related to ATMs. This is 10% lower than the previous year and good news, according to Steyn.

The OBS released its annual report on operations for 2017 on Wednesday. In 2017 the OBS opened 7 056 formal cases - a record 35% more than in 2016. On average cases were closed within 34 business days. Most complaints came from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Calls received by the OBS' call centre also increased by 35%, showing an increased need for information and assistance in relation to banking disputes.

According to Steyn, the increase in cases reflects the complexity of complaints banks receive and, therefore, the increased need for the Ombud.

The OBS found in favour of complainants in 27% of the cases, indicating that most matters capable of early resolution were resolved at the bank.

While the number may appear low, it is in line with international experience at other Ombud offices, Steyn points out.

Mediator

In 2017 there were 7 173 referrals - 26% more than in 2016. Referrals are where the OBS assists the complainants to submit their complaints to the bank.

“Our process requires that the matter first be referred directly to the relevant bank to try and resolve. However, many consumers contact our office requesting us to assist with this referral,” explains Steyn.

If the matter is not resolved, a formal complaint will be opened in the Ombudsman’s office.

“In our role as mediator we facilitate a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties to the complaints, and in doing so, we hope to restore the trust in the relationship between the bank and its customers," says Steyn.

Her aim is to do more conciliation and negotiated outcomes in the future.

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