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Ombudsman gives bank two weeks to resolve fraud case

Client gets blame for losing R5k in minutes

Capitec Bank customer Nhlanhla Mbatha.
Capitec Bank customer Nhlanhla Mbatha.
Image: Supplied

The banking ombudsman has given Capitec Bank two weeks to resolve the matter with its client who lost R5,000 in four minutes via its banking application.

If Capitec fails to do so, it will have to explain to the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) why Nhlanhla Mbatha should not be refunded. 

Mbatha contacted the OBS after he felt that Capitec was not owning up for his financial loss and blaming him for being irresponsible with his online cellphone banking app pin code. 

The OBS responded to Mbatha last week, saying that it had given the bank two weeks, which expires early in March, to submit a report explaining its side of the story. 

In a letter written by Mpho Sejabeng from the OBS addressed to Mbatha, it said Capitec has 15 days to resolve the matter with Mbatha directly and if this fails, the bank will be expected to file a report with the ombudsman.

"To this end, a bank official may possibly contact you to discuss your complaint. Should you be contacted please co-operate with your bank with the view to successfully resolving your complaint...

"Should the bank not resolve your complaint within the stipulated [time], it will furnish us with a report to that effect. After receiving the bank’s response, we assess the evidence to determine whether we need to investigate further or whether we are unable to assist.

"The file is then allocated to an adjudicator to either start the investigation process or prepare an assessment report for you which sets out why we are unable to assist you. The OBS will strive to ensure that you hear from the adjudicator assigned to your case within 30 working days after lodging the complaint. You will be granted an opportunity to make submissions throughout the process," wrote Sejabeng.

He said the process of evaluating or investigating a complaint may take some time depending on its complexity and other factors.

The OBS closes the majority of its files within two months after a complaint had been laid with it, said Sejabeng.

Mbatha, from Soweto, became the victim of banking app activation fraud on January 18.

He had gone to the bank's branch at Eyethu Mall in Mofolo to enquire about his banking app which he could not access as it kept informing him that he had punched in an incorrect PIN.

Two withdrawals of R3,000 and R2,000 were made from his account in four minutes while he was still consulting with the bank's employee at the branch.

The withdrawals were made from an ATM at Jabulani Mall, about 11km from the branch he had gone to for assistance. 

In its response to Sowetan Consumer, the bank said Mbatha could have been reckless with his pin code or given it to fraudsters.

“In this situation, the client informed the bank after the transactions were approved and no funds were salvaged. Unfortunately, this fraud can only be committed when the client’s personal information is divulged,” said Shey Nel from the company that handles the bank's public relations. 

Mbatha said the bank's investigation into the matter has been superficial.

"They seem to treat complaints the same, saying clients are duped into divulging their information to strangers. They should treat each case on its merits. In my case, they are silent on who changed my phone numbers on my profile.

"That would reveal the identity of both the fraudster and the bank employee who enabled the fraud. I just hope the ombudsman will be thorough," said Mbatha.

The ombudsman office can be contacted on 0860-800-900 or email to: info@obssa.co.za

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