11/10/2017 09:19 SAST | Updated 11/10/2017 09:19 SAST

The Top 3 Bank Card Fraud Methods You Need To Know About

You can never be too careful.

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Bank-card fraud increased in South Africa in 2016 -- with card jamming, card swopping and shoulder-surfing being some of the most common scams.

Card fraud statistics released by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) earlier this year indicated that credit-card fraud increased by 13 percent, while debit-card fraud increased by 3.1 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The most affected provinces were Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Speaking to HuffPost SA, SABRIC's CEO, Kalyani Pillay, said the top three card scams in the country currently are phishing, card swopping and card-not-present (CNP) fraud.


Phishing is a cybercrime in which criminals, posing as legitimate institutions, will lure unsuspecting customers into providing sensitive personal information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. They may do this via email or telephonically.

Pillay warns customers to:

  • Never respond to emails appearing to be from your bank that request your personal details. No bank will ever ask you to confirm or update your account details via email.
  • Always ensure that you are on the real site before using or disclosing any personal information. Hover your mouse pointer over any hyperlinks to reveal the actual URL and check that it is, in fact, the address stated in the email.
  • Never provide your online ID, password or PIN to anyone.
  • Avoid doing internet banking in public areas such as internet cafes.
  • Frequently change your PIN and passwords.
  • Place sensible transaction limits on your accounts.
  • Ensure that you have the latest anti-virus software applications installed on your computer.

Card swopping

This is when criminals target ATM users. The perpetrators use various methods to distract or manipulate ATM users to gain access to their bank cards and PINs.

They may do this by offering help while customers are doing their transactions, or they may change the language on the screen prior -- so an unsuspecting customer asks for help. They may also shoulder-surf -- which is standing next to someone and watching them as they enter their PIN at the ATM machine.

Pillay's advice:

  • Choose familiar and well-lit ATMs where you are visible and safe.
  • Report suspicious items or people around ATMs to the bank. Also note that fraudsters are often well-dressed, well-spoken and respectable-looking individuals.
  • If you think the ATM is faulty, cancel the transaction immediately, then report it to the bank
  • If someone disturbs you while transacting, your card may be skimmed by being removed and replaced back into the ATM without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction immediately, report it and use your bank's stop card toll-free number, which is displayed on all ATM machines.
  • Be cautious of strangers requesting you to return to the ATM to finalise a transaction because they are unable to transact -- skimming may occur during the process.
  • If your card has been swallowed by the ATM, do not leave the machine before you have cancelled the card.

Card-not-present (CNP) fraud

This is the unauthorised use of a payment card such as a credit card. CNP fraud can occur with transactions that are conducted online or over the phone. Although credit-card-payment processors take steps to minimise this type of fraud, if criminals have stolen details such as the billing address, account number, three-digit security code and card expiration date, the fraudulent transaction may appear legitimate.

These details can be stolen electronically, without obtaining the physical card.

SABRIC's advice:

  • Review your account statements regularly and query disputed transactions with your bank immediately.
  • When shopping online, only place orders with your card on a secure website.
  • Do not send emails that quote your card number and expiry date.
  • Never let your card out of your sight when making payments. Make sure you get back it back after every purchase.
  • Always check transaction slips for correct purchase amounts before you sign them.
  • Sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it to stop anyone else from taking ownership or trying to use it.

"Don't choose the same PIN for your debit, cheque and credit card so that if you lose one, the others will still be safe. Also subscribe to your bank's SMS notification services as this will inform you of any transactional activity on your account," added Pillay.

"Unfortunately, criminals will always exploit opportunities and vulnerabilities. They do see bank customers as being easy targets," said Pillay, and this why customers can never be too careful.