Bank cards cloning at toll gates disputed

The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has fired back at reports of card cloning occurring frequently at toll booths along its highways.

In a statement on Sunday, 30 June 2024, Sanral general manager for communications, Vusi Mona, took issue with an unspecified article that linked toll plazas to card cloning and skimming, and other credit card fraud.

“We want to reiterate that these acts do not happen at our toll plazas,” said Mona.  “Instead, stolen or cloned cards are sometimes presented for payment. Most toll transactions are below R500, so one does not need online transaction verification.”

The statement comes after a MyBroadband report highlighted that paying with cards at toll gates is problematic because motorists must hand over their cards to collectors.

South Africa’s major banks and the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) have often advised people not to do this as it provides an opportunity for malicious actors to skim a card’s details.

SABRIC and the South African Police Service previously also said they saw high rates of card cloning incidents at toll gates.

In many cases, the booths are higher than vehicles and only have small windows, making it difficult for motorists to see what is happening with their cards.

Fortunately, there has been an increase in contactless tap terminals in toll gate lanes, making it possible to use a card or digital wallet without the risk of exposing its information to a third party.

FNB has been rolling out contactless payment terminals at various South African toll gates, with plans to expand its network.

Speaking to MyBroadband, FNB Transact Pillar CEO Daniel Kaan said a pilot of the solution on the N3TC toll route had been a huge success.

He said more than half of FNB customers making payments at the toll gates used the tap pay points.

“Feedback from the pilot has been highly positive as contactless payments continue to be popular amongst consumers as a quick, secure, and convenient way to pay than swiping or inserting a card,” said Kaan.

FNB launched the pilot in partnership with Mastercard, Visa, and Verifone, and thus, it supports all Mastercard and Visa cards with contactless support.

However, FNB only has access to its customers’ payment data, and Kaan couldn’t comment on the uptake from other banks’ customers.

Kaan said that over 80 toll gate lanes on the N3TC route are ready to be switched on with the tap points between August and December this year.

These will be located at the De Hoek, Wilge, Tugela, and Mooi River plazas and at on- and off-ramps along the N3.

Kaan added that there are 81 toll lanes with contactless payment terminals along the N4 between Pretoria and Mozambique.

These are at the Diamond Hill, Middleburg, Machado, and Nkomazi plazas, as well as at on- and off-ramps along the route.

Sanral recommends e-tags over cards

Sanral said it will continue to promote the use of e-tags instead of cash or card payments, adding that they aid mobility through dedicated Shesha Lanes at toll plazas.

Cars with working e-tags that have sufficient credit can use these lanes to quickly drive through the toll gate without stopping.

Sanral also highlighted methods for topping up e-tags to ensure motorists have sufficient funds to pay toll fees.

This can be done at mainline toll plazas during office hours, self-service terminals, participating retailers like Pick n Pay and Checkers, any Advanced FNB ATM, and via electronic funds transfer.

However, Gauteng motorists have been hesitant to adopt the tech, as it previously required also having to pay for e-tolls in the province.

Although it is now possible to get an e-tag free from any historical e-toll debt, Sanral and the government have repeatedly stressed that historical e-toll debt remains payable.

That has raised concerns that Sanral could deduct money loaded onto new e-tag accounts to pay off historical debts.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has advised motorists only load small amounts on the account to test whether the agency does this, although it believes it will be highly unlikely.

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Bank cards cloning at toll gates disputed