Category Banking

Look after your card and help prevent crime

22 September 2008 FNB & Visa

First National Bank (FNB) and Visa are encouraging consumers to be aware of the threats that they face when using their credit and debit cards. This advice forms part of the annual consumer awareness campaign called Be Card Wise Drive, which aims to prevent personal loss and to help combat crime in South Africa.

“With 20% more newly banked customers in the market since 2006, the importance of ongoing consumer safety and awareness education cannot be underestimated,” says FNB Credit Card CEO, Jacques Celliers.

He adds that card theft and subsequent fraud is often linked to other more serious crimes. “Criminals who are able to access funds through the theft and misuse of cards often use the proceeds to finance other activities. “The syndicates involved in card theft are often also linked to drugs, trading in stolen goods and terrorist activities – not necessarily in South Africa, but around the world.”

With millions of credit and debit cards in circulation in the market, some 20 000 cards are reported lost or stolen across the bank every month – with a 50% increase in fraud on those cards in the last 6 months.

Neil Hawkey, Head of Payment Systems Risk, Sub Saharan Africa at Visa, notes that the threats faced by card users are intensifying. High tech theft like phishing and skimming is still present but the major concern is the dramatic increase in theft using lost and stolen cards. Fraud using cards reported as lost and stolen has more than doubled in the last year.

“There is a lot to deal with when you have been a victim of a crime like this – but remember that cancelling your bank cards as soon as possible remains an important task as it will limit the gains the criminal will make from his actions,” Hawkey says.

While most banks ensure that the losses to the individual are limited through lost-card protection plans, FNB and Visa nevertheless appeal to all cardholders to do their bit in preventing criminals from prospering.

Celliers reports that the incidence of fraud cases reported at tollgates is currently very high. “We suggest customers pay careful attention when handing their PetroCard over for swiping at a tollgate,” he says. “Ensure that your card is not copied or swiped a second time and review your statements carefully, paying specific attention to toll fees.”

To reduce the burden of cash holding for retailers and cash in hand for consumers, FNB Visa Electron cards can now be used to pay for groceries and also get cash back at Point of Sale (POS). “This is a convenient and safe banking solution,” says Hawkey, “as statistics show that there is much less fraud committed at POS than that at ATMs. It is also cheaper and quicker to swipe your card at POS when buying groceries.

FNB and Visa also support retailers by providing fraud awareness and protection material on a regular basis. FNB has a fraud department dedicated to merchants, which monitors all incoming transactions with the objective of identifying fraud.

“Any suspicious transactions or trends are immediately investigated and appropriate actions taken. Fraud hotspots are identified and FNB and Visa use this information to further empower store owners against imminent threats,” Celliers says.

He provides the following advice to all card holders, “Always remember the basics. Take special care of your card and treat it as if it were cash. Report a lost or stolen card immediately. Protect your personal information at all costs.”

Criminals are always on the lookout for opportunities to cheat the system. However, the banks are working together with their own internal investigations departments and the South African Police Service to put a stop to their activities.

For these crime fighters to achieve maximum success, they need every card holder to be vigilant and to take care of their card and ultimately put an end to card fraud.

Celliers comments that in the debit card arena, customers face different threats. Overuse of cash, instead of cards, remains their number one security concern and challenge.

“Our aim is not to eliminate cash usage completely but rather to reduce the unnecessary use of cash and cash-holding is our objective,” says Celliers, “especially where it poses a serious security risk to our customers.”

For example it is more dangerous for clients to withdraw large amounts of cash from branches or ATMs because of the personal security risk when an individual carries large sums of money outside the bank.

“FNB is proud to have initiated several activities to encourage the usage of debit cards to help customers avoid holding stores of cash under the mattress,” adds Celliers.

“The FNB UIF electronic payment system instituted in 2005 replaces UIF cheque payments. Similarly, social grants paid directly into bank accounts rather than pensioners having to stand in the sun in queues at cash pay out points.”

Celliers continues, “With initiatives like these, we are encouraging many people to join the formal banked public of South Africa. We believe that the safety and convenience offered by these mass market bank accounts are making a marked difference in the lives of account holders. In so doing, we are helping develop our society making it more sophisticated and a much safer.”

FNB’s toll-free fraud number is 0800 110 132.

Top ten Be Card Wise tips
Be Card Wise Drive: Focus on identity theft

As First National Bank (FNB) and Visa draw attention to the scheming ways of criminals with the Be Card Wise Drive from 21 to 27 September, customers are prompted to consider the following ten tips to keep their debit and credit cards safe:

  1. Never disclose your PIN (personal identification number) or give your card to anyone.
  2. Use your debit or credit card to pay for goods in-store; it is cheaper and safer than cash.
  3. Avoid isolated ATMs late at night.
  4. Never hurry when transacting with your credit or debit card. Make sure you are not distracted, intimidated or rushed into your transaction.
  5. Make sure your card is only swiped once and not swapped at the restaurant.
  6. Be vigilant for card-swapping or any suspicious skimming devices at toll gates.
  7. If your purse is stolen or you are robbed, make sure you cancel all cards, including your garage card.
  8. Be aware when travelling that your card is always near you or in a safe place.
  9. When shopping online, only transact online via reputable web sites and never give out your banking information over the Internet.
  10. Credit and debit cards are the cheapest form of cash-free payment at point-of-sale (POS), offering loyalty benefits and FNB offers inContact transaction alerts. These cards are a great budgeting tool so FNB and Visa encourage you to use your cards wisely by staying informed, vigilant and safe.


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