Finance – Beware – New Banking App Scam

Finance – Beware – New Banking App Scam

Scam artists continually evolve their scams to keep up with security measures and to continue scamming customers out of thousands of rands.  ABSA and Capitec recently confirmed that they were aware of a new scam involving banking apps or sms confirmations.  A “consultant” contacts the customer, usually to warn them about a possible fraudulent transaction, or suspicious debit order.  The customer is asked to confirm having dealt with the company or log a fraud complaint with a another “consultant”.  Being that the so called “fraudulent transactions” will not be recognised by the customer, the scammer will ask the victim to log in to their banking app to authorise a request that will block the unauthorised transaction.  Customers will be given a reference number, and the full name of the consultant.  At times customers are transferred from one “department” to the next, making them feel at ease.  Once the customers authorises the request on the banking app, sms’s of actual unauthorised transactions start pouring in.

The scam artist will not ask for your bank account number, they will not ask for your ID or even your name, they already have all of your personal information.  They only need you to confirm via your banking app or by replying “yes” to an sms,” said Joan*, a recent victim.  Another victim, Karishma Thakurdin, an editor for TshisaLIVE, said: “It was shocking that they asked me for no details, except to accept a push notification, so they had already hacked into my internet banking. They had my name, surname and cellphone number.”  She immediately logged a case of fraud and was told the matter was being investigated. “Taking the recent data breach into consideration, it’s not my fault that all my personal information could have been leaked through the breach, which made me, as a client, more vulnerable,” she said.  “My hard-earned money was stolen. The scammers intercepted my internet banking on their own, so I am holding Absa liable.”

ABSA confirmed that they were aware of the new scam.   “Fraudsters pretend to be from the customer’s bank or another organisation and offer to assist customers with solutions including, but not limited to, a reversal of unauthorised transactions and payment relief options relating to Covid-19. During the challenging pandemic, an acceleration of the digital journey, including e-commerce transactions has been observed. It’s therefore expected these transaction methods will be targeted by cybercriminals in the future,” said Ally Mafunzwaini, ABSA’s head of fraud solutions, retail and business bank. “As a response, and in the interest of our customers, we continuously make substantial investments into our safeguards. However, successful fraud prevention requires all parties, including Absa, customers, and the industry, to play their respective roles in full,” he said.In response to the question on whether customers would be reimbursed Mafunzwaini said; “The unique circumstances of each case and our customer-centric approach, powered by our digital fraud warranty, are contributing factors to our decision to reimburse customers based on the merit of each case.”

Capitec also warned customers about the scam: “Fraudsters will call you claiming to be from your bank’s fraud department, warning that there was either an attempt to commit fraud on your account or that a stop order was loaded. For them to block this activity, consumers are told to approve the confirmation messages sent to their banking app using their PIN.”

Here are tips bank clients can use to avoid scams.

  • Ignore any SMS or e-mail notification that asks you to follow a link and provide your username and password.
  • Do not store any banking credentials on your smartphone.
  • Do not let your browser (Safari, Chrome and others) save your banking passwords.
  • Ensure your banking credentials are unique and not used to log in to other websites, e-mail accounts or apps.
  • When selling your cellphone, ensure all your details are removed, the banking app is uninstalled and delinked from your banking profile, and the phone is reset to factory settings.
  • Never leave your smartphone unattended when you are logged in.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible to increase the security of your login.
  • Do not jailbreak (your iPhone), use pirated software or compromise the security of the software on your device as this could easily lead to attackers spying on you without your knowledge.
  • Install a reputable anti-malware solution on your device to detect and block signs of malicious activity, and remember to keep the software updated to ensure maximum effectiveness.
  • If you receive a suspicious phone call, drop the call immediately.

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