File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency.

As South Africans brace for a busy festive season, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has cautioned beneficiaries to use their social grant money wisely and offered useful tips to protect their grant money from criminals.

The agency said the social grant payment is not meant for luxury life or to pay back loan sharks debt but ought to be used for basic needs. Sassa stressed that the social grant is "an intervention for poverty alleviation".

"Parents and legal guardians for child support grant beneficiaries must remember that the social grant is not meant for their needs but for the child’s needs. The child must have proper clothing and nutritious food," Sassa said in a statement.

Sassa also issued tips for beneficiaries to help keep their money safe during the festive season.

These include:

- Be wary of people loitering around the ATM and ensure that you are not followed

-  Check your balance regularly and report discrepancies to your Bank immediately

- After you have  completed your transaction successfully ,leave the ATM area immediately .Be cautious of strangers requesting that you return  to the ATM to finalise /close the transaction because they are unable to transact .Skimming may occur during this

- Take your time to complete your transaction and secure your card and your cash in your safe wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving the ATM.

Sassa concluded by wishing beneficiaries a happy festive season.