For many South Africans Black Friday and Cyber Monday may bring welcomed bargains, but Reana Steyn, the Ombudsman for Banking Services,  cautions consumers to be aware that the increased hype around sales and quick bargains also increases the risk of fraud.

This is likely to occur when transacting online or with  bank cards.The reason is simple:  everyone, including the fraudsters, are looking for the deal of a lifetime during the Black Friday and the Cyber Monday bonanza, Steyn says.

As consumers search for the best deals on over the Black Friday weekend,  criminals are out there ready to prey on unwitting bargain hunters transacting at ATMs or online by stealing their bank cards, confidential banking details and by offering fake deals on fake websites or through unsafe internet connections.

According to research conducted by the OBS, reported statistics show that in 2018 there were *404,594 online transactions recorded on Black Friday (up by 55% from 2017) in South Africa. Cyber Monday also saw online transactions increasing by 36% from 129,458 in 2017 to *176,595 in 2018.

 Steyn is of the view that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will probably see record levels of fraudulent transactions  this year and the Ombudsman’s office expects to receive an increase in complaints related to fraud in the months following these days.  The office previously experienced an increase in credit card fraud complaints of 238% over the November period last year, which is indicative of the new preferred modus operandi of fraudsters.

 Steyn warns that some fraudsters will lure unsuspecting consumers with “too good to be true deals”. Instead of getting their money’s worth, they open themselves up to identity theft or bank fraud. Others will be swopping bank cards at ATMs and even more will rely on vishing (fraudulent phone calls) and phishing (email fraud) to get hold of bank cards or banking details. Consumers must take the necessary precautions to ensure that they do not fall victim to any fraud when transacting during these holidays or any other time. Based on past experience, the Ombudsman for Banking service recommends that consumers take heed of the following tips to protect themselves.:

Protect yourself on line

  • Do not disclose any confidential information such as card details and PINs over the phone no matter how convincing the caller may sound. Vishing fraud involves phoning unsuspecting bank customers to obtain the customers confidential internet banking access codes and passwords. The bank will never ask you for your access code, password and PIN. Should you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the bank, call your bank on its advertised fraud number to make sure of the legitimacy of the call.
  • Safeguard your devices. Keep your cell phones and laptop safe and discourage multiple users on your device.
  • Secure your networks. Set strong passwords and ensure that the sites you shop on are secure and are the legitimate websites; the padlock on the browser must be locked.
  • Avoid public WIFI connections and internet cafes for your online banking and purchasing.


Be alert

  • Never ask a random stranger for assistance at the ATM and be wary of strangers asking you for help.
  • If the ATM is in a secluded area or it seems to malfunction, rather go somewhere else to transact.
  • Ensure that your withdrawal limits are low, so that in the unfortunate event of a ‘phantom withdrawal’ you do not lose too much money.
  • Never write your PIN on the ATM card.
  • If your card is retained, phone your bank’s toll free stop card line listed on the ATM immediately and stop your card. Do not allow a bystander to call the toll-free stop card line on your behalf- they could be tricking you into thinking your card has been stopped.
  • Ensure that you will be able to call your bank immediately in the case of an emergency. If you leave your cellphone at home, it will be too late to stop the lwithdrawal of the funds from your account.

Utilise your bonus in the best possible way

  • Build an emergency fund to meet unforeseen contingencies.
  • Reduce some of your debt. Use some of your bonus to pay for existing debt.
  • Use some of the money to invest for your dreams and goals, like lobola, children’s education, building or renovating your house.

“It may feel good for the moment to splurge on yourself, but instant gratification enticed by all the bargains and additional disposable income may be short lived. We advise consumers to spend wisely, and be cautious when using their preferred banking channels, and to stay safe,” warns  Steyn.



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