A News24 report has revealed that organised crime syndicates are stealing R1.6 billion per year from unsuspecting banking clients in massive debit order scams.
An investigation which involved the Hawks, the police, and SARS uncovered the “existence of organised crime syndicates seemingly operating on a massive scale”.
These crime syndicates are stealing money from South African banking clients through fraudulent debit orders.
The illegal debit order scams are targeting South Africa’s major banks, including ABSA, FNB, Standard Bank, Nedbank, and Capitec Bank.
Debit order fraud in South Africa
A big problem with the traditional debit order system is that banking clients are sitting ducks – rogue companies can start deducting money from clients without them knowing.
Many of these fraudulent debit orders are for small amounts, typically under R100, in the hope that the account holder will not notice the monthly deductions.
These debit orders often happen when a fraudulent service provider gets their hands on your personal details, and uses them to institute a debit order on your account.
It is up to clients to detect that companies are stealing money from them, and it is also up to them to get their bank to stop these debit orders.
Debit order fraud is nothing new in South Africa.
The Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) has seen a big increase in the number of debit order disputes in recent years.
PASA receives around 1.5 million debit order disputes per month, of which a large percentage is a result of fraud.
This view is echoed by local banks, which said they have seen high volumes of unauthorised debit orders from certain companies.
FNB, for example, said in February that it has detected that many of its customers were disputing Procall and Mzansi debit orders via the FNB app and online banking portal.
PASA is currently rolling out a new authorisation system called DebiCheck to fight debit order fraud and protect South African banking clients.
The DebiCheck system requires customers to confirm their debit order information electronically with their bank, which protects both banks and customers from fraudulent debit orders.
The system will, however, only be implemented fully by October 2020 – which means South Africans will still have to be vigilant about debit order fraud.
“The 11 banks participating in DebiCheck are committed to the process and still aim to have most companies on the system this year,” said PASA CEO Walter Volker.
As of 1 August 2018, the first phase of the system went live – which allows companies to test the systems and introduce new business processes that allow them to utilise DebiCheck optimally.