3 Essential Safety Tips when Banking

banking safety tips
3 Essential Safety Tips when Banking

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at some safety tips you can make use of when it comes to banking.

We all know that money and banking go together hand in hand. But of course, there are different types of banking for example:

Digital Banking

  • Online banking
  • Text alerts
  • e-Statements

Common Banking

  • Debit and Credit cards
  • Savings accounts
  • Checking accounts

Business Banking

Loans Options

Now that we know more about the types of banking, let’s look at what is important – keeping your money safe.

It has most certainly happened to a few of us – the moment when you stand in front of the ATM teller and you see with a shock that your account is empty, and you know for a fact that you did not withdraw the money.

These days you will probably get an SMS notification that notifies you of any activity going on regarding your account.

First, we have to understand how these people get access to your account.

Following are a few ways, and also some safety tips.

Card Cloning Safety

 Known as card skimming, this is very common in South Africa.

They basically make a replica of your card, which gives them access to everything in your account including your that credit card limit (and let’s be honest, most of us have a reasonably high credit limit, in case we need to purchase something is quite expensive or in case of a cash emergency).

How do they do card cloning?

They, the criminals will swipe your card through a machine known as a card skimming device to copy all of your credit card/bank customer details, which are stored on the magnetic strip (brown/black stripe on the back of your card). Your details can then be placed on a new blank card, making it an exact replica of your card.

That’s pretty scary if you think about it.

So what can you as a customer/ person do to prevent it?

Be Aware! When you are making any purchase with your card, never let your card out of your sight.

If there should be a problem with the machine and they need to fetch another one – hold on to your card.

DO NOT let them walk away with your card. But remember, card cloning does not just happen when you are making a purchase, more than often it happens right under our noses when we are using the ATM. There is more than one way that they can use to clone your card.

They can either distract you while you are busy doing a transaction, in order to get hold of your card or by placing a card skimming device over the card slot of the ATM.

This way they can copy your card information once the card is inserted into the ATM.

A small camera that's hidden is used to capture your PIN number

Here are a few safety tips that can help you from becoming a victim of card skimming (either at the ATM or when making a purchase).

  1. Cover your transaction - Use your body to block the keyboard from view. Also always cover your one hand with the other one while you are typing in your PIN.
  2. Be Observant - Always be aware of your surroundings. If you feel unsafe or notice suspicious-looking people hanging around the ATM – leave immediately.
  3. Never use an ATM that looks tampered with or damaged - Use ATM’s you are familiar with.
  4. Do not use ATM’s late at night or in secluded areas
  5. Monitor your bank statements. This way you will be able to pick up any unusual transactions.
  6. Trust your instinct. If you have any suspicions or bad feelings when making a purchase – try & use cash instead.
  7. Do not accept assistance. Do not let anyone interfere with your transaction. Sometimes fraudsters will pose as bank officials.

Debit Card Safety

Thought your debit card is safer to use because it has a PIN number? Think again.

We all have at least one credit card and a debit card that we use when it comes to banking and paying for purchases.

But which one would be the safer option to use?

First of all, let’s look at the difference between a credit card and a debit card.

A credit card gives you the ability to purchase things now and only pay for them later. In other words, you buy things today and let’s say only pay for them at the end of the month. You also have the option of paying the full amount or the minimum payment that is required.

When it comes to using a debit card it works a little different

  • A debit card is linked to your bank account, so any money you spend is automatically taken from your account.
  • Debit card fraud happens just as easily as credit card fraud.
  • Think about it – just like on a credit card, a debit card also contains a card number, an expiry date and a CCV number (this is the 3 digit number on the back).
  • All that the other person has to do is take a photo or even just write down those 3 sets of details. It’s that easy!
  • If this happens and someone else uses your debit card, they can drain/empty your whole bank account.
  • The big problem is that after you have reported it, it can take up to two weeks for the bank to investigate the matter and reimburse your account.

So what can you do to make sure your debit card is safe?

Take a look at the following tips:

1. Write down your CCV number & keep it safe

Then you simply blank it out on the card using a permanent marker (don’t worry this will not damage your card in any way, but it will give you peace of mind).

2. Keep your PIN a secret

This is rule number one when it comes to debit card safety. Do not give it out to any person or company. Do not let anyone else besides you enter your PIN.

3. Be smart online

The web is a big place, so be extra careful when you are shopping online.

4. Instead of keying in your PIN – sign

You should always if possible opt for signature over PIN transactions.

5. Get banking alerts

By signing up for banking alerts, you can keep up to date with what is happening. The bank will contact you via email or text message when certain activities occur on your account.

6. Protect your card

Be sure that you don’t damage or demagnetize the magnetic strip on the back of your card. If it is damaged in any way, swiping the card won’t work.

Internet Banking Safety

Online banking can be described as fast, easy and convenient.

Whether you want to check balances, pay your bills, make transfers or even deposit checks using only your smartphone’s camera, online banking allows you to do it all, without going to the bank and waiting in the long queue’s we all know so well.

But be aware, it does come with certain risks

Remember, there might be cybercriminals or identity thieves who will take advantage of anything you do online.

One of the most common and probably their most favourite way that fraudsters use to access your internet banking is by sending you an email that says you need to follow the link and change your password.

Now to begin with – your bank would NEVER ask you to do that. If there should be any issue regarding your account, they will CALL you.

If you follow these tips below you will be able to use online banking safely:

1. Use a strong password

To do this you can use a long password that is a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and even special characters. Just make sure that you will be able to remember it.

If it would make things easier you can always use a password manager. You should always avoid making use of common words or phrases. Try to avoid creating passwords that contain your date of birth, your initials or even your name – sometimes it might just be too easy to guess.

2. Protect your computer

Security software is a must on any computer these days. Make sure you have a firewall turned on and that you have antivirus software running. Having antivirus-spyware is also a good choice. This will ensure that you are protected from Trojans, Key loggers and any other form of malware.

You should also keep your operating system and software up-to-date.

3. Do not use public computers

It is always best when you’re banking to make use of computers and networks that you know and trust.

Using public computers at libraries or internet cafes just increases your risk of being a victim of internet fraud, since the passwords can be traced or seen by others.

If you must make use of them remember the following:

  • Clear the cache and browser history
  • Delete all temporary files
  • Never allow the browser to remember passwords.
  • Always log out after your session

Accidents happen, and it might just be that you forget to log out of your account. So it’s always a good idea to practice logging out after your session/transaction.

If you are looking for some extra precaution, you can always set up private browsing on your computer or smartphone, and at the same time set your browser to clear its cache after each session.

4. Set up notifications

This is very helpful. If your bank offers this facility, you should definitely use it. You as a customer can set up text or email notifications, which will alert you of certain activities in your account.

5. Monitor your account

After any transaction, it is a good idea to check your account online to verify that the correct amount has been deducted or added.

Online banking is available 24/7, so you can check your account regularly (monthly/weekly).

If you notice any discrepancies/unusual activity, you should contact your bank immediately.

Now that you know what safety tips to use when it comes to banking, whether it is at the ATM, making a purchase or online, you will be able to avoid becoming a victim of banking fraud.

Remember to always be safe and aware at all times.

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