Protect your money this festive season

November 2018 Cyber Security, News

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), on behalf of the banking industry, would like to make the public aware of how they can protect their money this festive season and shared the following modus operandi to enable greater awareness.

Associated robberies where criminals follow a victim after a withdrawal at an ATM or from the bank remain rife, as criminals know that at this time of year, people receive their Stokvel payouts and bonuses. We therefore urge bank clients to avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use alternate safer ways to transact.

Bank clients are also still falling victim to fraud at ATMs where criminals interfere with them while they are carrying out a transaction, and SABRIC urges bank clients not to accept assistance from anyone, even if they purport to be bank staff.

“Criminals are masters at social engineering and know just how to exploit human vulnerabilities to perpetuate crimes, particularly over the festive season where they tend to let their guard down,” says SABRIC CEO; Kalyani Pillay.

In a scam, known as the ‘Money Bomb’, the criminal drops a roll of paper covered in genuine bank notes near the victim after they have transacted at an ATM. The criminal then approaches the victim and suggests going to a remote location to share the ‘money’. At the remote location, the victim is robbed of the money they withdrew, often violently.

Digital platforms have also created social engineering opportunities for criminals to manipulate their victims into divulging their personal or confidential information. Clients are still compromised because of phishing, vishing or the installation of malware onto a victim’s device by having them click on a link, enabling the criminal to steal sufficient personal information to access their online banking profile. SABRIC urges consumers not to click on links or icons in unsolicited emails or SMSes.

SABRIC has also seen an increase in the hacking of social media profiles, where a victim’s social media account is hijacked by hacking their account, or by creating a duplicate account using stolen personal information. The criminal then accesses the victim’s contacts, and posing as the victim, fabricates a tragic story, and sends a message to their contacts requesting money. The victim’s contacts then unknowingly transfer money to the criminal.

“We continue to stress that as a bank client, you are your money’s best protection, so take cognisance of our tips and empower yourself.” says Pillay.

Tips when using ATMs 

• If you think the ATM is faulty, cancel the transaction IMMEDIATELY, report the fault to your bank and transact at another ATM.

• Avoid ATMs that are dimly lit or surrounded by loiterers, and never allow your children to draw money using your card, since they're the most vulnerable to perpetrators.

• Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM to avoid opening your purse, bag or wallet while in the queue.

• Be cautious of strangers offering to help as they could be trying to distract you to get your card or PIN.

• Follow the instructions on the ATM screen carefully.

• ONLY punch in your PIN once prompted by the ATM.

• Report suspicious items or people around ATMs to the bank.

• Choose familiar and well-lit ATMs where you are visible and safe.

• Report any concerns regarding the ATM to the bank. Toll free numbers are displayed on all ATMs.

• Be alert to your surroundings. Do not use the ATM if there are loiterers or suspicious people in the vicinity. Also take note that fraudsters are often well dressed, well-spoken and respectable looking individuals.

• If you are disturbed or interfered with, whilst transacting at the ATM, your card may be skimmed, by being removed and replaced 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.

• Should you have been disturbed whilst transacting, immediately change your PIN or stop the card, to protect yourself from any illegal transactions occurring on your account.

• Know what your ATM looks like so that you can identify any foreign objects attached to it.

• Do not ask anyone to assist you at the ATM, not even the security guarding the ATM or a bank official. Rather go inside the bank for help.

• Never force your card into the slot as it might have been tampered with.

• Do not insert your card if the screen layout is not familiar to you and looks like the machine has been tampered with.

• Your PIN is your personal key to secure banking and it is crucial to keep it confidential.

• Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it with anyone, not even with your family member or a bank official.

• Choose a PIN that will not be easily guessed. Do not use your date of birth as a PIN.

• Cover your PIN when punching the numbers even when alone at the ATM as some criminals may place secret cameras to observe your PIN.

• Don't let anyone stand too close to you to keep both your card and PIN safe.

• Some fraudsters wait until you’ve drawn your cash to take advantage. Be wary of people loitering around the ATM and ensure that you are not followed.

• Take your time to complete your transaction and secure your card and your cash in your wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving the ATM.

• Set a daily withdrawal limit that suits your needs (the default amount is set at R 1000), to protect yourself in an event that your card and PIN are compromised.

• Check your balance regularly and report discrepancies to your bank IMMEDIATELY.

• Avoid withdrawing cash to pay for goods/services as your Debit Card can be used for these transactions. You can use your Debit Card wherever the Maestro/Visa Electron logo is displayed.

• After you have completed your transaction successfully, leave the ATM area immediately. Be cautious of strangers requesting you to return to the ATM to finalise/close the transaction because they are unable to transact. Skimming may occur during this request.

• Inter-account transfer limits should also be managed wisely.

Tips to prevent phishing and vishing


• Do not click on links or icons in unsolicited e-mails.

• Do not reply to these e-mails. Delete them immediately.

• Do not believe the content of unsolicited e-mails blindly. If you are worried about what is alleged, use your own contact details to contact the sender to confirm.

• Type in the URL (Internet address/link) for your bank in the Internet browser if you need to access your bank’s webpage.

• Check that you are on the real site before using any personal information.

• If you think that you might have been compromised, contact your bank immediately.

• Create complicated passwords that are not easy to decipher and change them often.


• Banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone.

• If you receive a phone call requesting confidential or personal information, do not respond and end the call.

• If you receive an OTP on your phone without having transacted yourself, it was likely prompted by a fraudster using your personal information. Do not provide the OTP telephonically to anybody. Contact your bank immediately to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised.

• If you lose mobile connectivity under circumstances where you are usually connected, check whether you may have been the victim of a SIM swop.

Tips to prevent classified/holiday scams

• Do not trust websites you do not know.

• Ensure that you are on a secure website and not a ‘spoof’ site by clicking on the security icon on your browser tool bar to see that the URL begins with https rather than http.

• Don’t fall for offers that are available at a very cheap price. If it seems to be too good to be true, they usually are.

• Register for 3D Secure to secure your card details.

• Do not send emails that quote your card number and expiry date.

• Never click on a link when requested to confirm your banking or personal details.

Tips to prevent deposit and refund scams

• No ‘refund’ should be made without first verifying with the bank that the deposit that has been made into your account is indeed valid.

• In addition, you should wait for all cheque deposits to first be cleared before handing the goods over to a depositor.

• Take great care to protect personal information and that of your company; it is through access to this information that perpetrators gain access to you and your organisation.

• Staff dealing with finance in your organisation should be educated about such scams.

Tips for carrying cash safely

Tips for individuals

• Carry as little cash as possible.

• Consider the convenience of paying your accounts electronically (consult your bank to find out about other available options).

• Consider making use of cellphone banking or Internet transfers or ATMs to do your banking.

• Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you.

Tips for businesses

• Vary the days and times on which you deposit cash.

• Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you.

• Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing in the bank queue.

• Avoid carrying moneybags, briefcases or openly displaying your deposit receipt book.

• It is advisable to identify another branch nearby you that you can visit to ensure that your banking pattern is not easily recognisable or detected.

• If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company.

• Refrain from giving wages to your contract or casual labourers in full view of the public; rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by your bank.

• Consider arranging for electronic transfers of wages to contract or casual labourers’ personal bank accounts.

Tips for stokvel groupings

• Refrain from making cash deposits of club members’ contributions on high-risk days (e.g. Monday after month end).

• Ensure persons depositing club cash contributions or making withdrawals are accompanied by another club member.

• A stokvel savings club or burial society can arrange for members to deposit cash directly into the club’s account instead of collecting cash contributions.

• Arrange for the club’s pay out to be electronically transferred into each club member’s personal account or accounts of their choice.

• Take another person with when going to deposit club cash contributions

Tips for protecting your personal information

• Don’t use the same username and password for access to banking and social media platforms.

• Avoid sharing or having joint social media accounts.

• Be cautious about what you share on social media.

• Activate your security settings which restrict access to your personal information.

• Don’t carry unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse.

• Don’t disclose personal information such as passwords and PINs when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax or even email.

• Don’t write down PINs and passwords and avoid obvious choices like birth dates and first names.

• Don't use any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN).

• Don’t use Internet Cafes or unsecure terminals (hotels, conference centres etc.) to do your banking.

• Use strong passwords for all your accounts.

• Change your password regularly and never share them with anyone else.

• Store personal and financial documentation safely. Always lock it away.

• Keep PIN numbers and passwords confidential.

• Verify all requests for personal information and only provide it when there is a legitimate reason to do so.

• To prevent your ID being used to commit fraud if it is ever lost or stolen, alert the SA Fraud Prevention Service immediately on 0860 101 248 or at

• Ensure that you have a robust firewall and install antivirus software to prevent a computer virus sending out personal information from your computer.

• When destroying personal information, either shred or burn it (do not tear or put it in a garbage or recycling bag).

• Should your ID or driver's license be stolen report it to SAPS immediately.

Tips for protecting yourself against SIM swaps

• If reception on your cellphone is lost, immediately check what the problem could be, as you could have been a victim of an illegal SIM swop on your number. If confirmed, notify your bank immediately.

• Inform your bank should your cellphone number changes so that your cellphone notification contact number is updated on its systems.

• Register for your bank’s cellphone notification service and receive electronic messages relating to activities or transactions on your accounts as and when they occur.

• Regularly verify whether the details received from cellphone notifications are correct and according to the recent activity on your account. Should any detail appear suspicious immediately contact your bank and report all log-on notification that are unknown to you.

• Memorise your PIN and passwords, never write them down or share them, not even with a bank official.

• Make sure your PIN and passwords cannot be seen when you enter them.

• If you think your PIN and/or password has been compromised, change it immediately either online or at your nearest branch.

• Choose an unusual PIN and password that are hard to guess and change them often.

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