Warning: online banking fraud on the rise in South Africa

Local bank customers must pay closer attention to their mobile security, the South African Bank Information Centre (Sabric) said on Thursday.

Sabric, which is a non-profit company, was formed by the four major banks to assist banking and cash-in-transit companies combat organised crime in the country.

Sabric CEO, Kalyani Pillay, said online banking fraud is on the rise owing to high levels of phishing and malware attacks in the country.

“Social engineering is manipulating people so that they can provide certain information without being aware that they are providing it to criminals,” Pillay said.

Cyber crime costs South Africa around R1bn a year, Pillay said referring to stats in the media. Meanwhile, South Africa is one of the top targets of cyber crime in Africa, according to Sabric.

Pillay said that while banks continuously provide cyber security messages, criminals are also devising new ways to steal from customers.

“As more bank consumers migrate to online banking platforms, the risk is that smartphones and handheld devices are being compromised,” Pillay said.

Pillay said Sabric works closely with law enforcement to ensure a collaborative approach to fighting these crimes.

Sabric has a campaign called ‘Skelm’ to help South Africans to protect themselves against banking fraud.

“The campaign will provide various platforms on social media for the public to share their own experiences of being scammed in order to empower one another,” Pillay said.

She said consumers must be aware of these risks and take steps to safeguard themselves.

This campaign is about creating cyber security consciousness and Sabric has also provided the following security tips for consumers:

  • Secure your smartphone by enabling the lock screen and use a pattern password or fingerprint screen lock.
  • Where possible don’t save any sensitive information and bank account details on your electronic devices.
  • Think before you download apps to your mobile or tablet devices.
  • Do not bypass built-in security measures by ‘rooting’ your device.
  • Disable any wireless connection settings when you’re not using it.
  • And disable your push notification settings on mobile devices if not needed.


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Warning: online banking fraud on the rise in South Africa