With Christmas almost here, many of us are already thinking about, if not already having gotten started, with our travelling, shopping and spending more quality time with friends and loved ones. During this busy time, we have so much on our minds and, oftentimes, we tend to let the merriment of the festive season mean we let our guard down when it comes to vigilance and a general sense of self awareness.
What does this mean? It means one’s sense of caution and alertness is often reduced. We are more carefree; more “chilled” as many would call it. There isn’t anything wrong with this in some contexts, but when it comes to safety and security, this can be a big problem. This includes financial safety and security, as fraud becomes a key problem especially around the festive season. Fraudsters tend to prey most on seemingly unaware potential victims, knowing all too well we are at our weakest during the holiday period.
“It is not a cause for panic or over worrying, but there is a general need for more alertness of one’s finances and habits during the holidays. We therefore encourage the public to exercise greater caution and vigilance with their valuable assets, especially their finances. One’s finances are an easier target during this time since spending patterns and behaviours are accelerated. We must also ensure that we empower ourselves with necessary knowledge and practices to safeguard ourselves against potential perpetrators. As a bank, we try our hardest to prevent our customers from falling victims to scams or fraudulent acts by sharing more information on how to safeguard oneself,” said Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Risk, Mr. Christopher Gwere.
Below are just a few security tips which aim to equip customers and banking users – indeed the public at large - with knowledge on how to remain protected against fraud this festive season:
1. Be wary of offers for help at ATMs; do not accept any assistance unless it is from a bank official or security guard. Fraudsters often impersonate police officers or even a bank employee – ask for ID if you must!
2. Look around you before using an ATM and also inspect an ATM for skimming devices and mini cameras or any sign of tampering with the card reader slot before inserting your card. Do not allow your card to be used in your absence at any point;
3. Due to the current card swapping fraud at ATMs seen in many markets, if your card does not come out of the ATM or is kept for a period of time without the ATM processing anything, please contact your bank immediately. Do not wait to recover your card from the branch as there could be a scamming mechanism in play;
4. Report all lost or stolen cards immediately to your bank. Report any fraudulent activity or lost cards immediately. If you see any unusual activities around an ATM, report this immediately. This could include anyone offering help, trying to look over your shoulder, or taking pictures in the area – suspicious activity must be reported at all times;
5. Do not share your Personal Identification Number (PIN) with anyone. Not even a bank official has any reason to have this, and you need to ensure you guard against anyone ever seeing it. Do not write your PIN down or save it on a device as this is accessible to others;
6. Make sure you change your PIN upon receipt of your new bankcard. Immediately upon receipt of a new card, visit an ATM to change the PIN to a number that only you will easily remember. This is a small but significant safety measure;
7. Make use of the protective services your bank offers. Register for SMS alerts, which will assist in instantly making you aware of all transactions taking place in your accounts and allow you to monitor suspicious transactions or activity, as well as help you manage your finances and budgets; and
8. For your security and convenience, inform your bank if you plan to use your Debit/Credit Card outside Botswana.
“These safety and security tips form a basis of ensuring our customers’ finances remain protected. Above all, it is worth noting that even outside financial tips, other assets are targeted such as homes and even cars. We need to be careful and vigilant across the board to ensure peace of mind and avoid the inconvenience of becoming a victim. As they say, preventative action is the best guard against disaster, and the same applies to your all our valuables and assets. Remain alert and vigilant, and you can enjoy your festive season and move further forward into 2017 on good financial standing,” concluded Mr. Gwere.