Online banking fraud – What to do if criminals target your account

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre’s (SABRIC’s) annual crime statistics for 2018 revealed a 75.3% increase in online banking fraud.

In 2018, criminals stole over R260 million from 23,466 South African online and mobile banking clients.

The number of mobile banking fraud incidents doubled over the last year while online banking incidents increase by 37.5%.

SABRIC also found that incidents of banking app fraud also increased sharply, growing by 55.4% compared to last year.

SIM-swop and number porting fraud

SABRIC said SIM-swop fraud remained a major issue in the banking sector, with the number of reported SIM-swop fraud incidents increasing by a massive 200% in 2018.

The social engineering techniques used by criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, exploiting human vulnerability to harvest confidential information like a PIN or a password.

This raises the question of what you should do if you become aware that you are targeted by fraudsters.

MyBroadband asked South Africa’s major banks what you should do if criminals are trying to do a SIM-swop or port your number. Here is what they said.


Giuseppe Virgillito, head of digital at FNB, told MyBroadband that anyone who suspects their account is compromised should immediately call their fraud line on 087 575 9444.

“We also encourage you to make use of the award-winning FNB Banking App to approve your transactions on online banking,” said Virgillito.

The FNB banking app is not susceptible to SIM-swop or porting fraud and you can still receive inContact messages which will alert you to activity on your account if your number is “stolen”.

iPhone 6S FNB


Ulrich Janse van Rensburg, head of fraud strategy at Absa, said users who are targeted by criminals should immediately contact the fraud line, reset their PIN and password, and reset their mobile app passcode.

He added that users should never approve authorisation requests via the mobile app or Surecheck message if they are not transacting.

“Absa will never ask you to approve transactions where you do not initiate the conversation. Absa will never ask the customer to share a One Time PIN (OTP),” Janse van Rensburg said.

He advised users to monitor their mobile app notification or SMS Notify Me for any suspicious transactions.

“In case of any doubt contact the fraud hotline immediately using the mobile app ‘click to call’ or call 0860 557 557,” he said.

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Lucas Venter, senior manager of analytics and forensic tech at Nedbank, said any unauthorised transactions should also be reported to the bank immediately.

“If someone suspects that fraudsters are targeting their online banking profile, they should immediately change their logon credentials and contact the bank to have their online banking profile blocked,” he said.

“If there is an unauthorised attempt to SIM swap a client’s cell number, the client should immediately contact the bank to have their online banking profile blocked and/or have their cell number delinked from their online banking profile.”

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Now read: Massive rise in mobile banking fraud in South Africa

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Online banking fraud – What to do if criminals target your account