How to shop responsibly in South Africa this Black Friday

Black Friday is upon us, and it is a great time to save big on a wide range of products and services.

Banks and retailers have gone to great lengths to ensure that their systems are ready for a large increase in traffic and transaction volumes.

“Our systems are resilient throughout the year, but we have upgraded some of our key systems to accommodate year-on-year increases in transaction volumes,” said an Absa spokesperson.

“Furthermore, we have rigorous monitoring systems in place, and we have dedicated technical teams on-site during key processing periods to ensure that any potential challenges are resolved swiftly.”

Bank Zero added that since it was first created, its systems have been built with scaling in mind.

“As a constantly growing bank, this is a key topic for us,” said Bank Zero.

“We are confident we’ll be able to handle the volumes.”

It is equally important that South Africans are prepared to maximise the savings on offer while simultaneously protecting themselves against scammers and fraudulent parties.

Many South African banks implement high-tech security tools designed to protect customers from this malicious activity – like the SIM Securitisation and Verification (SSV) service included with PMT’s Amber solution – and these solutions go a long way to protecting customers.

However, customers must also play their part to ensure they are not caught out by scammers.

We therefore asked several top South African banks to provide advice to South Africans when making purchases during Black Friday.


“The Black Friday period does offer some genuine discounts and provides a good opportunity for customers to accrue savings,” said Absa.

It explained that this is a great way to buy gifts for loved ones ahead of the festive season, or to buy essentials in bulk.

However, South Africans should be cognisant of fraudulent activity and scams by malicious parties.

One example of this is deposit scams, which comprise the false advertising of goods and services online.

“Avoid deals that appear ‘too good to be true,'” said Absa.

It added that these scams often require EFT as the only payment method, and this is also the case when scammers are trying to send buyers to phishing sites.

“Enjoy the seasonal sales period by shopping from reputable platforms or companies,” said Absa.

To determine if a platform is reputable, Absa recommended using your preferred search engine to seek out reviews.

It also noted that using the search engine is a great way to identify suspicious websites as phishing sites.

Bank Zero

Bank Zero said that South Africans should steer clear of non-3DS websites.

3DS is a secure authentication protocol retailers and payment providers use to protect customers against fraud.

“They (non-3DS websites) don’t ask for approvals, and are hence a ripe target for fraudsters to take your details and use them again at other websites,” explained Bank Zero.

Bank Zero also noted that South Africans should be vigilant not to expose their card details to other parties, and when shopping in person, make sure your card never leaves your hand, as this protects it against being skimmed.

South Africans should also change their banking settings to request a PIN when tapping their card – even for purchases under R500.

“Most banks do taps only without a PIN below R500, but that means that if your card is physically stolen, someone can tap away,” said Bank Zero.

Certain banks — including Bank Zero — allow you to request a PIN even when tapping under R500, but most machines can’t handle this and will decline the transaction instead.

“The Bank Zero customer then just inserts their card for those small amounts. It’s a bit of a schlep, but it keeps your money safe.”

Lastly, Bank Zero provided advice for South Africans looking to take advantage of great deals from global retailers.

In these scenarios, South Africans should always pay in the retailer’s currency, rather than in rands, said Bank Zero.

“If you pay in ZAR, that merchant adds a fat margin into that currency conversion.”

Standard Bank

Standard Bank did not respond to our request for comment, but it has a dedicated web page for helping South Africans avoid bank scams and fraud.

This page includes a checklist that says South Africans should be careful of an offering being a scam if:

  • What you are offered or promised sounds too good to be true.
  • The offer takes you by surprise, or the prize relates to a competition you never entered.
  • You’re given limited time to confirm your details or win the prize, catching you off guard.
  • You receive the information via a free email address (like Hotmail, Aim, Yahoo or Gmail).
  • You are promised large sums of money for very little or no effort on your part.
  • You’re asked to provide money upfront, for whatever reason, to receive the money or prize.
  • You’re asked to confirm personal or account details via a hyperlink, icon or attachment in an email or over the phone.

The page also provides an in-depth list of possible scams to avoid.

Now read: How to avoid becoming a Black Friday fraud victim

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How to shop responsibly in South Africa this Black Friday