BAL launches fraud awareness campaign
THE Bankers Association of Lesotho (BAL), on Monday, launched a fraud awareness campaign in Maseru to alert depositors in particular and the public in general on some of the common criminal activities in the banking industry.
Held under the theme “Be vigilant at all times when using your internet banking, POS and ATM”, the campaign is meant to highlight the possible criminal or fraudulent activities ahead of the festive season.
BAL consists First National Bank Lesotho, Lesotho Post Bank, Nedbank Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB).
In a speech read on his behalf by Nedbank Managing Director PJ Bouwer, BAL chairman and SLB Chief Executive, Mpho Vumbukani, said since banks were at the centre of monetary exchanges, it was imperative for the association to ensure depositors and their money are protected and banks offer value to their clients.
“Lately, we have received reports of cloned cards which are on the rise. Cloning happens when criminals steal information on clients’ cards and reproduce similar cards to defraud clients on their cards,” he said.
“I must emphasise at this point that this crime involves international syndicates and it currently a cause for concern globally. Cases at cloned cards have been reported even in our country, so Basotho have been victims, especially when they travel to South Africa and abroad.”
Mr Vumbukani said among precautions depositors must make is not accepting help from strangers, keeping their PIN a secret, safeguarding their ATM, credit or debit cards and reporting lost cards as well as suspicious behavior to the bank immediately.
“With regards to electronic banking platforms such as Internet banking and mobile banking, we are aware that fraudsters have become very sophisticated,” he said.
“They can hack your computer systems and obtain information including your passwords to gain access into your account in order to illegally siphon money from our depositors.”
To prevent such a breach, Mr Vumbukani said account holders should never reply to emails that require personal details or give out their user ID, password, or account number into a non-secure web page.
He said customers who lost money due to would not be refunded by the banks, adding that users had an obligation to use their bank information responsibly.
“I therefore want to reiterate that these banking platforms are safe and convenient, but users have an obligation to use them responsibly. I am saying obligation with emphasis here because if a customer loses money to fraud and during our investigations, we establish that they have been irresponsible in the handling of the account, we as the banks have no obligation to refund the customer,” said Mr Vumbukani.
“A typical example is one of customers who give their family members access to use their ATM cards, be it their spouses, partners or children.
“We handle numerous cases where account holders come back to us to claim that their money is being stolen, only to discover that the culprits are family members. Banks usually advise customers in such instances to issue secondary cards which can be controlled and monitored.” SHOPRITE has partnered with Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB) to offer a domestic money transfer service through the supermarket chain’s outlets countrywide.
The facility, which was launched in Maseru on Tuesday, allows customers to send and receive money at Shoprite and U-save stores within Lesotho.
According to Shoprite Regional Manager, Pitso Melao (pictured), the launch of the service follows on the heels of the successful rollout of its cross-border remittances facility in March this year.
“Since the introduction of cross border money transfer services in March 2015, a total amount of R24 million was transferred by friends and relatives in South Africa to Basotho,” he said.
“In that time, a total of 12 675 people were able to use the service seamlessly to send money home.”
Mr Melao said the domestic money transfer service had been piloted from 26 October 2015, with 36 transactions worth M29 463 having been made. He said proof of identity and contact details of both the sender and the receiver would be required, adding that foreigners with valid identification were also able to use the service.
“First-time users would be required to fill out a registration form which will then be entered into the system. Following the transfer, a recipient can, by means of a secret four digit pin number and proof of identity, withdraw the money from their nearest Shoprite or U-save store at our money market, except for U-save Maputsoe and TY (Teyateyaneng) which still await extension,” said Mr Melao.
“Customers will soon have the option to withdraw their money at the till points while paying for their groceries, thus offering a safe method of withdrawing money and saving time by not having to stand in the queue at the money market.”
Mr Melao said M9.99 would be charged for each transfer, “which is less than any other institution”.
“Transfers are limited to M5 000 per customer per day and M25 000 per customer per month,” he said.
Shoprite opened its first store in Lesotho in 1997, with the supermarket chain now boasting 21 outlets consisting of five Shoprite supermarkets, six Usave stores, six OK furniture outlets, one OK Power Express, two Hungry Lion chicken fast food outlets and one liquor store. On his part, SLB Chief Executive Mpho Vumbukani said the facility would bring about more convenience and address the challenges faced by the unbanked and underbanked sections of Lesotho’s population.
“As a leading bank, we strive to bring innovations that benefit our people. We are particularly glad that we have partnered with Shoprite, which is a retail giant in its own right, to bring convenience for all our customers,” he said.
Mr Vumbukani noted that SLB’S role would be to provide financial security to users of the service.
“We are mandated, under the Financial Institutions Act of (2010), to protect depositors’ funds, and the Central Bank of Lesotho regulates us to ensure that is achieved,” he said.
“What happens during transfers is that whenever a deposit is made, we are required to keep the money for Shoprite in trust until it has been withdrawn by the person it was intended for. That is the kind of security we offer to the depositor because there are risks involved in money transfers.”
The service has been pioneered by both companies in other countries such as Zambia, Namibia, and Swaziland.