Absa sticking with SMS and USSD, despite SIM-swap fraud

SIM-swap fraud remains a problem in South Africa, with news emerging in October that the Hawks were investigating a criminal syndicate which had infiltrated mobile operators.

Earlier this year, FNB upgraded its smartphone app and announced it would migrate its clients from SMS one-time PINs to Smart inContact.

Smart inContact allows FNB clients to approve, reject, or report fraudulent online banking transactions from within their banking app.

The move comes after a report that an FNB client lost R200,000 when she became a victim of SIM-swap fraud.

The bank has received criticism regarding the move, with clients stating they do not want to be forced to use FNB’s app.

Absa on SMS

Absa has elected to stick with technology that remains linked to cellphones and SIM cards, called SureCheck, which sends clients a USSD pop-up prompting you to accept or reject a transaction.

The bank faced a fraud incident similar to FNB’s in 2016 when R2 million was stolen from a client’s account.

According to a report, the businesswoman is taking legal action against Vodacom and Absa to force them to release information related to the incident – with the aim of finding out who is responsible for the fraud.

MyBroadband asked Absa whether it is considering a transaction verification scheme that does not rely on a mobile phone number, to which the bank did not reply with a “yes or no” answer.

“We can assure customers that we employ a multitude of security mechanisms for transactions, which includes heavy PIN encryption and regular audits which mandate specific controls for the protection of PIN codes,” said Absa.

This means no one in the bank can see or retrieve your PIN, it said.

“Notwithstanding the security features and controls we have in place, we have no choice but to rely on our customers remaining vigilant at all times with their personal information and banking details and ask them to report anything suspicious to us immediately.”

Now read: Absa closes accounts for suspected arms deal payments

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Absa sticking with SMS and USSD, despite SIM-swap fraud