SA Banking Risk Information Centre has warned that criminals are now accessing personal and banking information on stolen phones to commit further crimes. File picture.
SA Banking Risk Information Centre has warned that criminals are now accessing personal and banking information on stolen phones to commit further crimes. File picture.

Criminals not only reselling stolen phones but using phone data for other crimes

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Mar 11, 2020

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Cape Town - The SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned of a new trend where cellphones are not only stolen to resell, but thieves are now accessing the information on them to commit other crimes.

According to the centre, criminals snatch the phones from unsuspecting consumers to gain access to the victims’ personal and confidential information, which they use to commit further crimes.

Sabric acting chief executive Susan Potgieter said despite benefits afforded by cellphones, consumers should be vigilant because they store far more information than most people might be aware of.

“Personal information is a valuable commodity for criminals, and because so much of it is on our cellphones, we need to take mobile security very seriously,” said Potgieter

She said when a bank client’s cellphone is stolen, they tend to focus on protecting their photos and social media profiles, but their highest priority should be protecting their money.

“This is even more applicable if you use your mobile device to do your banking. Remember, your phone is equal to a bank card, and could even act as a gateway to your bank account,” she warned.

She said there were a number of ways that criminals could access information stored on a cellphone to defraud consumers. “One way is to literally access all open applications on your unlocked phone and view all your sensitive data. Another is to use social engineering to obtain your user name and password stored in the cloud,” she said.

Capitec Bank said customers should understand how third-party applications (not endorsed by Capitec) work before downloading them on to their cellphones. Customers needed to be aware that third-party applications have the potential to access other information on the phone (such as account information), with or without a customer’s knowledge.

The bank said customers needed to be extra careful, especially since cellphones were often left unattended. “You will need to enter your mobile banking PIN when using mobile banking to confirm certain transactions, and you’ll choose your PIN when registering for mobile banking in a branch. Like all PINs, keep it a secret to make it more difficult for criminals to access your account,” the bank said.

In the event that your cellphone is lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately to deactivate your banking app, block cards and bank accounts.

@Mtuzeli

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