File image: IOL.

JOHANNESBURG - The office of the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) on Wednesday warned South African consumers that banking services were among the many that were affected by the one percent increase in value-added tax (VAT) which became effective on April 1.

This comes amid rising costs for petrol, school fees and a whole range of consumables factored into the increasing cost of living. The 2018 budget speech announced the one percent increase in VAT from 14 percent to 15 percent.

Banking services ombudsman, Reana Steyn, said that consumers should rework their budgets and remember to include increases in their bank fees due to the VAT increase.

"This is a good time to assess the services you require for your personal and business banking needs, to shop around and see which bank has the most affordable fees for your needs, you may also  check with your bank which fees can be negotiated," Steyn said.

"Banks charge a variety of fees for different types of transactions. It is in your best interests to obtain the bank’s list of charges and calculate the least expensive costs for your banking requirements. Most banks have their fees listed on their website so it’s quite easy to make comparisons."

Steyn said that the VAT increase will mean that, for instance, a family that pays a bond or rental for R7,500 per month, will now pay an additional  R75,00.

She said that another area worth scrutiny was third party bills, adding that the Ombuds office had been receiving an increase in complaints about suppliers' emails being hacked, and invoices being sent to consumers for payment to account details that differ from those originally supplied.

File picture: Denis Farrell, AP

 - African News Agency (ANA)