FNB warns customers over SMS, phone fraud

Emill Heppell FNB CEOBy ’Mathabana Kotelo

MASERU — First National Bank (FNB) Lesotho has warned its customers to watch out following a surge in incidents of SMS and phone fraud.

In a statement, FNB chief executive officer, Emil Heppell, said that fraud has been a problem in the banking industry for years with fraudsters repeatedly devising new methods to defraud customers and gain access to their private banking details.

The bank said while cellphone and online banking innovations afford customers easier and cost effective means of banking, the increasing cases of fraud involving the two methods threatens the security of customers.

“As the popularity of mobile banking increases, customers need to make sure that they are aware of the safety measures that they need to take to ensure they do not compromise their banking details” Heppell said.

“Luckily customers have the ability to steer clear of fraud if they apply simple safety hints and tips.”

FNB warned customers against phishing, smishing and vishing — the most common schemes fraudsters use to scam customers.

Phishing is a process by which fraudsters gain access to a customer’s personal information and bank details by sending an e-mail notification of a deposit onto a customer’s account and providing a phony web link for payment verification.

Smishing involves the sending of a text to a customer requesting their personal details, posing as a bank official to trick customers into exposing information via SMS.

Scammers also use a method called vishing where customers are deceived into disclosing information by sending them an SMS asking them to expect a call from the bank and to have their bank details and personal information handy.

Thereafter a call is made by a fraudster claiming to be a bank official asking for the customer’s information.

According to FNB, the latest vishing trend involves fraudsters calling customers claiming to be police officers and threatening them into revealing their personal details, failing which they would be arrested.

Competition entries are another way that customers are scammed into revealing their bank details.  Fraudsters
request a customer’s bank details under the pretext that the customer has won money.

Heppell said fighting SMS and phone fraud required the joint efforts of the bank and its customers.

“Our customers trust us with their money and safety and security is very important to us but as a bank, we can only fight the battle against fraud if customers assist us by keeping personal information safe as well as always being wary of possible scams,” he said.

“Combating fraud is easy when you are fully aware of the types of scams out there and how to avoid them.”

FNB customers were warned never to give out private information, pin and password information via e-mail, SMS or a telephone call.

They were also warned to avoid using faulty ATMs or requesting strangers for help and to notify their bank of any suspected fraudulent activity.

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