Absa Fraud Solutions in a race to get ahead of fraudsters

“The constantly evolving nature of banking fraud can be likened to a moving target on a global stage,” says passionate anti-fraud expert, Ally Mafunzwaini, Absa’s Head of Fraud Solutions, Retail and Business Banking.

Ally Mafunzwaini

Absa’s Head of Fraud Solutions, Retail and Business Banking

While we have seen the same fraud trends pop up time and time again, increased globalisation and digitalisation are making it easy for fraud to thrive by allowing fraudsters to act quicker and be more ruthless in their approaches. But how do fraudsters access your data? Social media, online forums, company websites and other public platforms typically hold a wealth of sensitive information that can fall into the wrong hands if it’s not adequately protected. Fraudsters can also purchase people’s contact details from data companies or via the dark web and proceed to call, SMS and/or email unsuspecting victims on these lists to elicit a direct response. After that, they use many sophisticated methods to create panic, anxiety or excitement to access your personal information. Some even go as far as forming call centres and impersonating banks to outsmart you. “Challenging global economic conditions have made many people desperate financially, and thus more susceptible to falling for money scams. At Absa Fraud Solutions, we’ve identified five pervasive fraudulent schemes doing the rounds. Using our experience and expertise in investigating and recovering these incidences of fraud, we can guide you on how to avoid becoming the next victim,” adds Mafunzwaini.

Credit application fraud

This is where fraudsters, having stolen enough of your information from multiple sources, impersonate your identity and apply for credit on your behalf without you knowing

Tips to avoid fraud

  • Stay away from attempting to claim winnings from competitions that you never entered.
  • Avoid inheritances from family members overseas or anywhere else that you have never heard of or met.
  • Register your identity with the South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) so that you can be notified immediately if anyone applies for credit in your name.

Phishing, vishing and smishing

This is when a fraudster sends an email (phishing), makes a call (vishing) and/or sends an SMS (smishing) pretending to be from a reputable company, e.g. your bank. In an email or SMS, they may tell you that they see that a sum of money is about to be taken from your account and to stop it, you need to click on the link provided. Simultaneously, they might call you to reinforce their credibility as a trusted company that is trying to protect you.

Tips to avoid fraud

  • If you are not transacting, don’t approve any transactions as you may unwittingly be approving fraudulent transactions. Never hand over your “keys to the safe” to anyone, that is your one-time PIN (OTP), password or CVV number, to either approve or block a transaction that you did not initiate.
  • Stay away from unknown emails that have hyperlinks suggesting a range of things, such as your account being blocked, downloading bank statements, accessing your banking account or product purchases.

Investment scams

Where a fraudster offers you a too-good-to-be-true investment proposition, e.g. they ask you to pay them R10k to earn a return of R100 000, after which they may ask you to re-invest for an even greater return. However, you never see this return.

Tips to avoid fraud

  • Do not get involved with too-good-to-be-true investment propositions. The validity of the investment and parties concerned must be confirmed before you get involved.
  • Be aware of and do your homework on get-rich-quick investment opportunities.

Deposit scams

Where products or services are advertised falsely, and you are asked to pay a deposit or full payment to secure them, yet, once you have done this, no goods are delivered. The advertiser starts making excuses and then vanishes without delivering the goods or services.

Tips to avoid fraud

  • Absa offers its clients an Account Verification Service. This service allows you to confirm the validity of an account using the beneficiary’s account or ID number and/or company registration number before you can make the payment.
  • Be wary of deposits required upfront from certain individuals and service providers. It’s advisable to see the goods and/or validate the legitimacy of the individual or entity before releasing the payment.

Change of banking details scam

Fraudsters send spoof emails purporting to be from a real customer or service provider telling you that they have changed banking details and asking you to please transfer future sums to this new account.

Tips to avoid fraud

  • Using Absa’s Account Verification Service, you can double-check whether the accountholder of the new account is indeed your client or someone else before you transfer any further sums to the new account.
  • Always validate any change in banking details request with your service provider or customer telephonically before making a payment.

What is Absa doing to protect you?

With fraud being a global phenomenon and fraudsters using sophisticated methods and different tactics to dupe customers into fraudulent transactions, we, as Absa, continuously make investments in our safeguards. However, for fraud prevention to be successful, all parties (Absa, customers and the industry) need to play their respective roles fully.

Some of these include but are not limited to:

As a South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) member, Absa and other banks collaborate to close the lid on fraudulent interbank transfers.

Absa invests in sophisticated fraud tools and technology, employing an expert fraud team to monitor the flow of funds and stop suspicious transactions in their tracks. At Absa, we are confident in our investment in our banking controls and safeguards to the extent that we offer a free Digital Fraud Warranty to our customers who use our Banking App, covering you for financial loss suffered as a result of fraud while transacting on this channel. Terms and conditions apply.

Our Fraud Hotline is another anti-fraud solution that I am extremely proud of,” says Mafunzwaini. “Fraud is an emotive issue, and if you need to speak to the Fraud team to report an incident, it’s a human voice that you want to hear when you call, not a machine. Our three-ring promise means that you will not have to wait for more than three rings before a real person answers, ready to listen and help you recover your funds.”

While we continue to make investments to protect our customers, we remind all our customers to protect the keys to their safes – their PINs, passwords, passcodes or card CVV numbers. Never share these vital details with anyone. Remember that Absa will never ask you to share your PINs, passwords or card CVV numbers for any reason. In addition, we will not ask you to read out the OTP that is sent to your phone via SMS or email to reverse or process a transaction.

In a situation where you receive a call asking for these details, we advise you to end the call. Keep an eye on your account using NotifyMe and by logging on to Absa Online regularly. To keep abreast of changing technology and new fraud scams and trends, please visit our website (www.absa.co.za) and read the sections on important notices, security steps and the Security Centre. Please contact our Fraud Hotline at any time on 0860 557 557 to discuss any fraud-related matters.”

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