As we are approaching a time to celebrate and enjoy the festivities, this is also unfortunately, an opportune time for criminals to take advantage of consumers who might become more relaxed when it comes to protecting their identity and their money. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has embarked on a Festive Season Awareness Initiative to warn people so they can protect their hard-earned money.

In terms of carrying cash, SABRIC urges people to carry as little cash as possible, and to consider rather paying accounts electronically, by making use of cell phone banking or internet transfers.

When drawing money at an ATM, always be alert to your surroundings and do not use the ATM if there are loiterers or suspicious people in the vicinity.

“Be aware that fraudsters are often well dressed, well-spoken and respectable looking individuals. If you are disturbed while transacting at the ATM, your card may possibly be skimmed by being removed and placed back into the ATM without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction immediately and report the incident using your bank’s Stop Card Toll free number, which is displayed on all ATMs, as well as on the back of your bank card,” says SABRIC CEO, Nischal Mewalall

When you have finished transacting at an ATM, always be cautious of strangers requesting that you return to the ATM to finalise any transaction as card skimming may occur during this request. Never force your card into the slot if you experience initial difficulty, as it might have been tampered with, and always cancel the transaction if this does take place. Also, set a daily withdrawal limit that suits your needs to protect yourself if your card and PIN are compromised. Check your balance regularly and report discrepancies to your bank immediately.

Also watch out for spoof e-commerce sites advertising festive specials. Criminals only need to change one digit of a web address to create a spoof website and steal your personal or confidential information. Be wary of unfamiliar e-commerce sites, especially if they do not redirect you to confirm your transaction via your banks 3D secure page or via your own banks mobile App before you pay. Only shop at reputable retailers and avoid unknown ones, even if the offers seem really good.

“When it comes to cybercrime, protect yourself against fraud by registering for additional security that sends a One Time Pin (OTP) to your phone when making a payment on an e-commerce site,” adds Mewalall.

Criminals are still using social engineering techniques like Phishing to harvest personal and confidential information. Never click on unknown links in emails, or open email attachments from unknown sources, and never forward these emails to anyone.

Finally, when using your banking App, always log out manually once you have finished transacting and be sure to keep your daily EFT and ATM limits low to protect yourself in the event of fraud.

Be alert this festive season and don’t become a victim!

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