Be alert as criminals are more active now

Isaac Moledi

Isaac Moledi

Criminals are generally more active over the festive season than at any other time of the year and Standard Bank has advised banking customers to remain vigilant.

"Most people take all the necessary precautions when going on holiday - neighbours are informed, insurance is topped up and emergency numbers are given to family and friends. Unfortunately this seems to be where personal security ends," says Herman Singh, director architecture and technology engineering at Standard Bank.

Personal security and protecting your financial transactions is often the last item on a holiday-maker's mind, he says, adding that consumers often get so wrapped up in the joys of the festive season that they make themselves vulnerable to fraudsters.

Singh says the festive season is the one time of the year where personal finances are improved by bonuses and 13th cheques.

Incidents of fraud at ATMs and credit card fraud as a rule increase over the festive season.

Singh says there are five basic rules that need to be followed to ensure a safe and prosperous festive season:

1. Never disclose your ATM PIN, Customer Selected PIN or password to anyone.

2. Never respond to unsolicited e-mail requesting personal information.

3. Check your bank statements regularly to identify any erroneous or criminal transactions that might have been performed on your account without your knowledge.

4. Use the security features introduced by the bank to ensure you have safe and secure banking experiences.

5. If in doubt, contact your bank for help.

While it is very important to adhere to these tips, the volume and nature of threats has increased.

Only use ATMs in a well-lit, high-traffic area. If the lights aren't working, don't use that machine.

Stay alert. Look out for suspicious individuals or circumstances. If you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and leave the area.

Have your ATM card for your transaction ready and in your hands. Opening your wallet or purse can be time consuming and also provides a potential thief with easier access to your valuables.

Never disclose your PIN to anyone and be sure to shield the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN. To further reduce the risk of fraud, memorise your PIN. Never write it down.

Be wary of strangers who offer to help you - even if you are experiencing difficulty with your transaction. Don't allow others to distract you while you're banking.

Make sure you get the correct card back from the ATM after your transaction.

Don't count or expose your money after your transaction. As soon as you receive your money and receipt, put it away and walk away.

Singh says: "Always remain vigilant when paying for services using a credit card.

"As far as possible ensure that your credit card is always visible to you when making a transaction."