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Skimmers to capitalise on Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day is around the corner and many bank customers will celebrate this day by buying their loved ones gifts and or dining them.

To ensure that the day continues and ends on a high note, the South African Banking Information Centre (Sabric) urges bank customers to continue being vigilant in order to avoid card skimming when using their cards at ATMs or to make payments in restaurants and retail stores.

Sabric has identified card skimming as one of the threats in the card fraud environment which has contributed enormously to counterfeit card fraud. The organisation's figures on card fraud have revealed that about 1 281 handheld skimming devices were recovered by investigators since 2005, of which 129 were recovered last year up to end September.

Gauteng Province has been highlighted as the province in which this criminal modus operandi is most popular. Last year, investigators recovered 57 skimming devices in the province alone.

"This has highlighted the depth of the problem and as Sabric, we continuously warn bank customers to be wary of card skimmers and to never let their card out of their sight when performing transactions" says Sabric CEO, Kalyani Pillay.

Cards can be skimmed at ATMs or at points of sale, the organisation says, emphasising the importance of never accepting any assistance from anybody at the ATM and also of shielding the keypad with a free hand when inserting the PIN number.

It also urges bank customers who are going to be making use of the Internet to do their shopping to make use of 3D secure products and Web sites that support them.

Also called Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode, Sabric says 3D secure is an authentication service that allows only the cardholder to use the card. It helps online merchants and banks know when it is the cardholder that is shopping online, it states, adding that 3D secure also allows the cardholder to enter an additional password or PIN to verify the legitimacy of the purchase.

When shopping online, Sabric urges consumers to only place orders with the card on a secure Web site and not send e-mails that quote the card number, expiry date or CVV number.

"We would also like to urge the public to only use online merchants that conform to these secure standards," Pillay says. "If you are disturbed or interfered with whilst transacting at the ATM, it is possible that your card may be skimmed by being removed and replaced back into the ATM without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction and immediately report the incident using your Bank's Stop Card Toll free number which is displayed on all ATMs as well as on the back of your bank card," she advises.

"Know what your ATM looks like so that you are able to identify any foreign objects attached to it. Never let the card out of your sight when making payments. If you have debit; cheque and/or credit cards, don't choose the same PIN for all of them, so that if you lose one, the others will still be safe. Keep your transaction slips and check them against your statement to spot any suspicious transactions and query them immediately."

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