MONEY CLINIC | A criminal accessed our banking app. Can we get a refund from the bank?

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After stealing your phone, criminals will often attempt to acquire your password through a technique known as phishing.
After stealing your phone, criminals will often attempt to acquire your password through a technique known as phishing.
katleho Seisa/Getty

An engaged couple was saving for their wedding, but was unfortunate enough to have their bank account accessed illegally. Now they want to know if they can have a refund from their bank. 

One partner writes:

My fiancé’s cellphone was stolen.

A criminal hacked into our banking app. They defrauded and cleaned out her account. This was money we saved up for our wedding, which, besides the Covid-19 pandemic, we now can't even celebrate with our immediate family. We are only getting registered, which is not a train smash, because we are humble, grateful people.

Considering all financial implications that are happening from Covid-19, the unrest and other factors, however, we would not mind if our bank could refund us at least half, even if not the total amount. The incident has impacted our home as the stolen money was money that we had saved for this blissful day.

Please, your direction/advice would be highly appreciated. 

Capitec Bank responds:

We regret to hear of this incident of phone and cash theft.

Unfortunately, because this type of fraud can only be committed when the client’s personal information is divulged (app pin code), we cannot be held liable, and as result, will not be able to refund the client for her loss.

If she has not done so already, we urge the client to report this case to the South African Police Services (SAPS). We will cooperate with the SAPS in order for them to trace and apprehend these criminals and recover the stolen funds, where possible.

Fraud avoidance tips:

In the case of phone theft, your banking profile can only be accessed on our app if the criminals have your PIN.

We urge clients never to share their passwords with anyone and to avoid those that can be easily guessed, such as your date of birth.

After stealing your phone, criminals will often attempt to acquire your password through a technique known as phishing. This is where they contact you or a relative posing as your bank or other institution in an attempt to trick you into sharing personal information. Capitec will never contact our clients to request information such as your ID number, banking pin or account number.

While clients should never share this information, they must be particularly vigilant for such SMSes or emails after theft of their mobile phone.

If you are a victim of mobile phone theft, contact our call centre immediately on 0860 10 20 43 to report the issue. Our team will deactivate your banking app, preventing all remote access to your account. 

Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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