THABO OKIE: Head of Operational Risk at Stanbic Bank

When it comes to the use of your banking card, it is important not to lose sight of basic safety and security measures. All banking platforms require vigilance for your own protection. The truth is, bank fraud, and card fraud in particular, is just as much of a concern in today’s world. Do not allow yourself to become a victim of card fraud. Here we explore some of the most common means of card fraud and how to avoid becoming a victim, particularly during this festive break when fraudsters tend to act most.

Card skimming: Is the use of a device specifically made for fraudulently obtaining the customer’s bank details, the device is stored in the magnetic strip on the back of the bank card (usually black or brown in colour). This information is later used to produce counterfeit (duplicate) cards that are then used by criminals to undertake fraudulent transactions on the victim’s account. This is referred to as card cloning

Devices used come in different sizes and shapes and can be used on both Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) and Point of Sale (POS) devices. Therefore, it is important that customers never let their cards out of sight, whether swiping at a restaurant, in a shop, or even withdrawing at an ATM. Make sure you are alert when using your card, check the receipts, and frequently examine your bank statements for unusual activity.

Card swapping: Can occur when criminals distract you while you are transacting at an ATM, claiming to be assisting you, or even paying a little too much attention when you input your Personal Identification Number (PIN). They then swap your card, this is done so quickly that very often you are unaware that you no longer have your own card. This is common during the holidays and on busy days as people tend to panic and are easily distracted. You’re often in such a big rush, you won’t realise what has happened until it is far too late. Stay alert at all times and do not let your card out of sight. Inform your bank and the authorities as soon as you suspect foul play, and stay clear of using the ATM when you see suspicious persons loitering around.

Card trapping: card trapping is when criminals trap cards in the ATMs’ card reader, giving customers the impression that the machine has swallowed their cards. They do this so that they can watch you key in your PIN from a distance or offer you the use of a cell phone to cancel your card. They then dial an accomplice who claims to be a bank official and pretends to cancel your card on the telephone and asks you for your PIN. It is incredibly important to note that you should under no circumstances ever share your PIN. No bank or official would need your PIN to assist you even in the case of a genuine problem.

These above are the common means of undertaking card fraud and are often experienced during the Christmas season, as shoppers, none the wiser, go about their busy days. In order to save yourself the heartache and inconvenience of being a victim of fraud, it is advisable to educate yourself on preventative security measures ahead of time. After all, why be forced to deal with fraud divisions and authorities during the holiday season when you can avoid it?

*This is a consumer education piece from Stanbic Bank Botswana

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