Cape Town – Crowded malls, buzzing beaches and ultimate rest and relaxation are all synonymous with the holiday season. However, it’s not only peak season at the beaches but also for fraudsters who operate at their best and catch relaxed holiday-goers off guard.
While using your credit or cheque card is one of the safest ways to transact, consumers should remain vigilant when it comes to safeguarding their personal banking details and their cards this festive season.
“What people tend to forget is that fraudsters can do nothing with your card alone,” said Charlaine Albertyn, head of debit and cheque card fraud at FNB Value Banking Solutions.
“In order for money to be withdrawn from your account, whether your card was skimmed or stolen, the fraudster will need your PIN and if you keep this secret and protected, your money should be safe.”
Albertyn suggested the following card safety tips to adhere to when physically using your card or when shopping online:
At an ATM or in store
Card swapping, skimming and cloning are the most prevalent forms of fraud that take place at ATMs or at point of sale (POS). Card skimming happens when your card is drawn through a small device that reads the magnetic strip of the card and stores the personal information.
This device can be carried in a pocket and your card can quickly be swiped when you are not watching or it can be inserted into an ATM, where you don’t notice anything abnormal. Following this, the fraudsters will try and obtain your PIN before they make a cloned card that they can use to withdraw money.
Card swapping on the other hand occurs when fraudsters distract you in order to swap your card, which enables them to use it for withdrawals or purchases. In both cases, the PIN is often retrieved through the act of shoulder surfing.
“It is critical that consumers use all the safety precautions when swiping their cards – they are easy to follow and can become part of your transacting habits,” said Albertyn.
These tips include:
- Always use your body as a shield and cover your one hand with the other when keying in your PIN at an ATM or POS device to avoid shoulder surfing. Shoulder surfing occurs when a person looks over your shoulder to see what PIN you are keying in.
- Never accept help from strangers when using your card.
- Before inserting your card at an ATM check the card slot, pin pad and top of the ATM to establish if there is anything noticeably out of the norm.
- Never force your card into an ATM slot and try to avoid using ATMs at night, particularly in remote areas.
- If you suspect that your card has been retained by the ATM, phone the bank or cancel your card on one of your digital banking platforms immediately.
By the pool or on the beach
There is always the odd moment that we forget about our bag or drop our wallet on our swimming towel and dash off for a dip.
“Even if your wallet with your cards is stolen or your whole handbag, your cards will be worthless to fraudsters and criminals without the PIN. This is why we urge customers never to write their PINs down or to keep it stored on their mobile devices,” said Albertyn.
When shopping online
While online shopping is a safe and convenient way of making purchases, fraudsters aim to get their hands on personal details such as the card number, expiry date and CVV number on the back of the card in order to get access to the customer’s funds, even though they might not have the physical card in their possession.
There are obvious things to look out for to safeguard yourself from online fraud:
- Never respond to mails asking for your personal banking information, particularly not a mail that claims to be from your bank as your bank will never ask for such details over the phone, sms or e-mail.
- Only deal with reputable sites and check the functionality of the site before you make a payment.
- Check that there is a padlock displayed in the URL and that there is an “s” after http in the web address – this indicates a safe site.
- Update and run your anti-virus and spyware program regularly.
- Never let your cards and wallet lie around.
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