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Protecting yourself from card fraud


Using plastic money and electronic payments are both very secure modes of accessing ones bank account. However, despite the many safeguards that banks have put in place to protect their clients from scammers and fraudsters, some clients have found themselves holding the short end of the stick, after falling victim to scams and frauds on their accounts emanating from the use of ATM cards.

by Clive Mphambela

Security of one’s bank account should thus be of concern when it comes to payment systems. All over the world, technology is changing and security requirements are becoming more complex each day as new payment channels are brought into the payments space.

Banks in Zimbabwe are promoting the use of plastic money and alternative low-cost channels in order to provide convenience to a wider customer base for longer periods of time at lower costs. Your bank does not have to be open for you to use a Point of Sale terminal in a supermarket, or to make an electronic/internet payment via your laptop or computer at home. However, electronic and card payment systems also open up new hazards and risks that come along with these new technologies.

Security breaches are a real danger and it is in this spirit that this week, we thought we could discuss some of these security pitfalls with a view to minimising them as to create greater confidence in customers when making use of these types of payment systems.

Some ATM Security Tips

Some of the common security breaches are occurring at ATMs. Banks are aware that members of the public are vulnerable to crime if they transact at certain ATMs, and have taken reasonable steps to minimise the potential for crime at ATMs.
However, bank clients also have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions when using ATMs to minimise the possibility of criminal activities.
The following tips will help you minimise breaches and unauthorised access to your bank account.
l Customers are advised to adhere to any notices of caution at ATMs in order to protect yourself against criminal activities at ATMs. In particular, do not let anybody come near you or distract you while you are at the ATM.
l Approach an ATM only under the right and safe conditions in order to protect yourself.
l Be alert about everything happening in your immediate vicinity when performing a transaction at an ATM.
l Always follow the ATM screen’s instructions correctly and ensure your card is secure during and after use. Always make sure to collect your ATM card after every transaction.
l At the ATM, do not take any instructions from strangers (even the security guard!!)
Seek assistance only from employees of the bank whenever you have a problem at the ATM during working hours. If you encounter a problem during non-working hours, find your bank’s hotline number and report the problem. If not, visit the branch at which the problem occured or your nearest bank branch first thing the following morning.

Take Due Care

l Protect your card as if it were cash. Do not leave it lying around or unattended; keep it in a secure place and never leave it lying around at home, at work or in a vehicle.
l Never share your Personalised Identity Number (PIN), even with your spouse or child. A great many customers are sharing their PINs with sisters, brothers and co tenants.
Taking due care of your cards, electronic purse, PIN, electronic banking or mobile banking passwords and selected personal information is essential to help prevent fraud and protect your accounts. Please ensure that you:-
l You keep your personal bank records in a safe place;
l Do not allow anyone else to use your card, PIN and/ or passwords to your accounts;
l Always take reasonable steps to keep your card safe and your PIN, password or selected personal information.
l Keep personal information secret at all times; never tell anybody your PIN or password, including any bank employees or security guards;
l Never write down or record your PIN, password or selected personal information;
l Take care and be alert to the risk of muggings and card swapping when using an ATM to do your transactions.

Report All Losses Promptly

It is essential that you tell your bank as soon as you can, if you suspect or discover that:-
l Your savings book (if applicable), your ATM cards and/or electronic purse has been lost or stolen;
l An unauthorised person knows your PIN, password or your selected personal information.
l For whatever reason, you believe that your bank account has been compromised.
When making a report about the loss of a card, or other security breaches, customers must report these to bank staff. For this purpose, it is important for bank customers to be aware that most of the security personnel at ATMs are not employees of the bank.

Issuance of ATM Cards and PINs

Your bank will issue you a card, or replace one, which has been already issued. However, a replacement fee may be charged if the loss of the card or disclosure of the PIN was negligent.
When collecting your card from the bank, ensure that you sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.

Your PIN is Secret

As we have already said, it is important to emphasise again that your PIN is strictly confidential. Where the bank supplies it, it will be advised only to you and will be issued separately from your card. You should never disclose your PIN to anyone, including employees of the bank.

PIN – Self-selection

Every customer is granted an opportunity to select a PIN of their choice. The ATMs offer this option everytime one transacts at an ATM. It is prudent to ask your bank about the procedure for selecting a new PIN for your account. Customers going for this option are encouraged to do so carefully and should do it in a manner that makes it easier for them to remember the new PIN.

l Clive Mphambela is a Banker. He writes in his capacity as Advocacy Officer for the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe. BAZ expressly invites stakeholders to give their valuable comments and feedback related to this article to him on clive@baz.org.zw or on numbers 04-744686, 0772206913

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