KZN man did not bank on R157,000 identity theft nightmare
Do courier company drivers have the necessary training and experience to verify proof of identity and address before handing over a credit card, complete with its PIN number?
If First National Bank (FNB) client Ivan Kistnasami’s experience is anything to go by, definitely not.
He recently discovered that a fraudster had applied for a Discovery card in his name, and had it delivered to an address in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, in November.
“With his new credit card and pin – and a massive credit limit of R102,000 – the fraudster had access to my cheque and credit card accounts, and within two days he had transferred all funds that were available, up to my credit limits, creating debt to the tune of R157,000,” the Pietermaritzburg resident said.
When he approached TimesLIVE for help shortly before the festive season corporate shut-down, his credit profile was in tatters and FNB had failed to honour his monthly debit orders.
“I believe that FNB was negligent in that they have delivered this credit card with the pin through a courier driver who clearly had no experience in verifying the documentation,” Kistnasami said.
The proof of address, a Woolworths account, bears an address which doesn’t quite match the font of the name; a clear sign of fraudulent tampering.
And the ID in Kistnsami’s name bore the photo of a black man, another obvious identity mismatch.
“FNB has my picture on their system, yet the courier driver accepted an ID document with a photo of someone very different.”
The courier company employee stamped the copy of the ID and the Woolworths account, and put his signature to the statement that he’d seen the originals and confirmed the copies to be true.
Kistnasami said when he approached FNB about the couriering of credit cards to its clients, “I was told that the bank does not allow clients to collect from the branch as they are trying to reduce the number of clients transacting at branches”.
In fact, since July 2018 FNB has not stopped allowing its clients from collecting their cards at a bank branch, but strongly discouraged that by charging them R200 if they choose to do so, while offering a free courier service.
“The reduction of card deliveries to branches is in accordance with the bank’s business and digital migration strategy, which continues to benefit customers from a convenience and cost-saving perspective,” the bank told TimesLIVE.
By December, thanks to the bank’s “convenient” delivery of Kistnasami’s card and PIN to the fraudster, he was deep in debt, his medical cover had been suspended due to non-payment, his insurance policy premiums had not been paid and his car insurance was a month in arrears.
TimeLIVE asked FNB whether fraudsters had abused the bank’s card courier policy to acquire credit cards in the name of other clients and whether it intended to implement new security measures to counter this form of fraud.
Does the bank feel it is appropriate for courier staff to have to determine whether or not an alleged card holder’s proof of identity/address are authentic or not?
Responding, FNB said very little, other than Kistnasami was the victim of identity theft and had been refunded.
“Our investigation into the circumstances of the fraud is still pending and we will communicate with the customer until the matter has been amicably finalised.
“Due to the ongoing investigation, we cannot disclose any further information on the matter.”
Kistnasami told TimesLIVE that he has repeatedly been told by FNB that the investigation was still “ongoing”.
“Yes, I was reimbursed, but the accounts are on hold. When I try to settle or balance the accounts so that I can close them, the system says ‘on hold’.
“All I want is to put this nightmare behind me and move on with my life,” he said.
“I do not want the bank to come back to me a year or more later and say I owe them a large sum of money.”
Asked to comment, Discovery said that as Discovery Card was “still operating through a joint venture with FNB” it would leave FNB to comment on the matter.
When Discovery Bank launches later this year, the spokesman said, “it will have incredibly strong security controls”, which would be explained at the time.
* FNB is the only bank which charges its clients a fee for wanting to collect their cards from a branch of the bank.
Its competitors do the reverse, charging clients a fee of between R150 and R175 to have their cards delivered to their chosen address by courier.