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How to keep your bonus and stokvel money safe this festive season

15 November 2019 - 06:00 By Naledi Shange
Sabric has cautioned clients to be wary about people offering to assist them at ATMs. Stock photo.
Sabric has cautioned clients to be wary about people offering to assist them at ATMs. Stock photo.
Image: 123rf.com/Andriy Popov

As companies prepare to pay bonuses and stokvel dividends are split ahead of the festive season, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) says people need to make sure their money is safe from criminals.

Sabric said criminals took advantage of the fact that people were more relaxed and socially active towards the end of the year, and used this time to steal information that gives them access to bank accounts.

“Sabric encourages people to empower themselves by sharing information selectively, and only on a need-to-know basis. This is why we are adding the hashtag label #NotSaying to all our messaging, to remind people to not just share any personal information without careful consideration when prompted to do so,” said Susan Potgieter, Sabric acting CEO.

Confidential and personal information to be careful of sharing included usernames and passwords, pin numbers, ID numbers, addresses and card details, to name a few.

Potgieter warned consumers of being duped by criminals who posed as bank officials calling to verify such information over the phone.

Another way to scam people during the festive period was to trick them into paying for holiday accommodation that does not exist, Sabric said.

“This scam sees criminals preying on people’s anxiety about booking a last-minute holiday. Victims are lured with what seems to be a really good deal, pay for the holiday in full and are then unable to make further arrangements with the agent who has simply disappeared,” the risk centre said.

Offering advice on this, Potgieter said: “An offer that seems too good to be true should make you suspicious.”

Sabric also called on bank clients to avoid carrying large sums of cash, withdrawing cash at ATMs and getting help from anyone while at the ATMs.

“Interference also goes beyond accepting assistance, as it has been noted that scammers use deceitful tactics like telling people that the ATM machine needs to be programmed or serviced immediately after they have inserted their ATM card. Clients must be aware of these tricks and call security if needs be,” Sabric said.

Other useful tips include using strong passwords for accounts and changing them regularly.

Banking clients are also urged to immediately report their IDs or drivers' licences as lost or stolen in the event that this happens.

For better safety when doing online shopping, banking clients are encouraged to have a robust firewall and install a good antivirus programme.

When destroying letters or documents that contain personal information, one should consider burning them instead of tearing them up and placing them in a garbage bag.

Sabric advised banking clients to avoid keeping unnecessary personal information in wallets or purses, writing down pins, using predictable pins and sharing information with supposed bank officials over the phone.

Another useful tip, especially for holidaymakers is: “Don’t use internet cafes or unsecure terminals (hotels, conference centres etc) to do your banking.”

Other tips that were applicable all year round were to simply avoid online purchases from websites that you do not know, buying items that are priced too low and seemingly too good to be true, clicking on links that lead you out of the original site and avoiding ATMs in secluded or dimly lit areas.

Another tip by Sabric is to keep your daily withdrawal limit as low as possible so that in the case that thieves do get hold of your card, they cannot withdraw all the funds from your accounts.

Meanwhile, stokvel members were advised to refrain from making deposits to their members on high-risk days such as the Monday after month-end. Sabric also advised that those withdrawing cash should never do so alone. The risk unit also advised members to rather have the cash deposited into their accounts instead of collecting it.