Fraudsters, warranties and forfeiting premiums on cancelled policies
Wendy Knowler’s 'watch-outs of the week'
In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:
It’s not only bank staffers who know your account details
I get a lot of heartbreaking e-mails from people who have fallen victim to vishing — bank fraud carried out over the phone.
Many of them say they were satisfied that the caller was employed by their bank’s fraud division because they knew their ID numbers or bank account details and that’s why they went along with them and gave them their account details, passwords, one-time passwords sent via SMS by their (real) bank, thereby enabling the fraudster to spend and transfer the money in their bank accounts.
This week Marcelle told me: “A fraudster posing as someone from Nedbank fraud called me on my cellphone and said I have been defrauded of a lot of money and she wants to reverse the amount and needs my card details.
“I asked her to prove she was from Nedbank’s fraud department and she gave me my correct ID number. Then I gave her details".
As a result, Marcelle was defrauded of R120,000 from her various linked accounts.
Christine told me she was convinced her caller was from her bank’s fraud division because she not only had her bank account details, but congratulated her on paying off her credit card balance.
Both women, on realising they’d been defrauded, alleged that the staff working for their banks must have colluded with the criminals.
Here’s what you need to know: If you are credit active many of your financial details are “out there”, thanks to several major data breaches. But they need your help to access your bank account: passwords and OTPs that only you know.
That’s why they make those phone calls. So never give any numbers relating to your bank accounts to anyone claiming to be from your bank. End the call and phone your bank’s fraud division using the number you have pre-saved under your cellphone contacts to make sure that someone isn’t trying to defraud you.
Don’t confuse your warranty with an insurance policy
Albie has ended up with an emoluments attachment order — better known as a garnishee — on his salary thanks to a misunderstanding about what his cellphone service provider was responsible for.
He stopped paying the subscription on a his laptop contract because the device stopped working after a power surge and he believed his cellphone company should have repaired or replaced it under warranty.
"The device was still under warranty as I only had it for a year at that time.
“They refused to let me only pay for my phone contracts and not the laptop contract, saying all the accounts fall under one profile.”
As I explained to Albie, a manufacturer’s warranty on a device covers defects — a problem caused by the manufacturer of the product which prevents the consumer from having full use of it.
In such cases, the manufacturer is obliged to take responsibility for the defect if it falls within the warranty period by repairing or replacing it. We need a cellphone insurance policy to cover loss, theft, damage caused by power surges and the like. So regardless that the laptop was damaged in a power surge, Albie was still liable to pay the cellphone company the agreed monthly instalment stipulated in his contract.
And because he failed to do so, the cellphone company was within its rights to take steps to recover the debt, plus interest and costs, from him. When a debt case makes it to court and an emoluments attachment order is granted, the original amount owing becomes much larger, thanks to interest and attorneys’ costs.
Albie’s employer is now legally compelled to deduct that amount from his salary until the debt is settled.
Dying for a refund of your funeral policy premiums?
You can cancel your funeral policy at any time, but in most cases you are not entitled to a refund of your premiums. Yet, many people assume otherwise, which gives rise to disappointment and anger.
“I cancelled my policy and lost all my contributions for the past six or seven years,” Heena posted on Facebook this week.
“Heartbroken because I assumed I would get my money back.”
Depending on when you claim, you could pay more in funeral policy premiums than the amount paid out at claim time. And if you can’t keep up with the premiums you will lose all the money you’ve paid in when you cancel.