Simple security steps

September 2008 News

Protecting your money is about doing the old things properly.

We live in a society with abnormally high crime levels and constantly improving technology, however, protecting one’s money is not always a high-tech exercise. Doing the basics right will keep your cash safe, according to Eddie Blight from FirstRand’s forensic services department.

When asked for some tips on secure banking, Blight offered the following advice that can be applied to any person or company, anywhere in the world:

Deposit scams: Do not release goods when a customer gives you a deposit slip, wait until your bank has confirmed the money is in the bank. It is becoming common today to have a client send through a deposit slip that indicates a cash deposit has been made and demand the goods. Many criminals forge the deposit slip to look like cash when in fact they have deposited a fraudulent cheque.

Your online banking will reflect the deposit as accepted because it takes the bank a few days to determine that the cheque is fake, at which time they will remove the money from your account. The only way to be sure it is a real cash deposit and not a cheque is to call your bank. If the deposit was by cheque, wait for it to clear or you could lose your money and your goods.

ATM: Exploding ATMs are another proudly South African occurrence, but so are muggings. When withdrawing or depositing cash, make sure it is at a public ATM and not in a dark corner in the middle of the night.

Internet cafes: Key loggers are tiny devices that can be surreptitiously attached to computers and capture every keystroke. Do not do your banking from a public computer, such as those found in Internet cafes. People can capture your user name and passwords easily with key loggers and help themselves to your account. Apart from that, it is also easy for people to peek over your shoulder and get all the information they need.

Be aware: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. How many people have been caught and fleeced by 419 and similar scams offering a percentage of ill-gotten loot as long as you send a bit of money to cover expenses. You are a fabulous person, but really, nobody wants to give you money.

Physical security: Do not walk around with cash unless you have to. If you have to, do not always follow the same pattern; vary your routine without warning. Best of all, pay via electronic transfer and not in cash.

Cheque safety: We still live in a world where cheques are used regularly. Always confirm that cheques have cleared and check any special clearance claims. Also, control your own cheque books, know where they are at all times and lock them away when not in use.

Electronic security: Paying electronically is not a silver bullet. Educate yourself and your partners/employees/family that you need a strong password to access financial information. Moreover, you need to keep your own password to yourself, spreading it around, even to trusted persons is like signing a blank cheque and handing it over to the first person who comes along.

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