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Festive online trading fraud alert for SA consumers

The FSCA and the SARB have issued a warning on the use of instant electronic funds transfer online payment service online payment services offered at e-commerce stores. File picture.

The FSCA and the SARB have issued a warning on the use of instant electronic funds transfer online payment service online payment services offered at e-commerce stores. File picture.

Published Dec 14, 2020

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Cape Town - As the festive shopping season approaches, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) have issued a warning on the use of instant electronic funds transfer (EFT) online payment services offered at e-commerce stores.

After consultations with the Payments Association of South Africa (Pasa), the two authorities issued a joint statement that said: “Consumers should be aware of the risks associated with the use of instant-EFT online payment services offered at stores which facilitate the purchase and sale of goods or services via the internet.”

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The statement added: “Instant-EFT is a payment method offered by a third-party, in partnership with e-commerce stores which automates the initiation of payments for consumers to e-commerce stores and also provides immediate confirmation of payment to the e-commerce store to enable them to dispatch goods or services purchased.

“It makes use of a practice called screen-scraping which makes it possible for third parties to access bank account data and automate actions on behalf of a consumer using that consumer’s online banking access credentials. The access to customer screen data is then used to facilitate payments.

“The method of using screen-scraping to effect payments puts consumers’ access credentials at risk of being compromised. Rogue entities might pose as third parties offering instant-EFT services on fake e-commerce sites to capture consumers’ access credentials for their bank’s internet banking websites.”

Chief executive of FNB Retail and Private Banking, Raj Makanjee said: “FNB is encouraging consumers to heed a caution issued by the SARB, Pasa and the FSCA on the risks associated with instant EFT payments when shopping online.”

Makanjee said: “The practice of ‘screen scraping’ makes it incredibly difficult for consumers to protect themselves against cyber fraud and other criminal acts which target banking customers. Over the years, we have been working closely with industry partners to highlight the dangers of ‘screen scraping’ while providing safer payments methods.

“Our message is simple, consumers must never share or cede control of their banking credentials to any third-party whether shopping online or at a physical point of sale. As a bank, we welcome the increasing use of digital platforms among consumers because it aligns with our efforts to ensure that customers have access to safer and convenient banking and payment methods.

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"Furthermore, we are increasingly making it easier for our customers to use safer ways to shop online as well as at a point of sale.”

Cape Argus

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