By: Sibonelo Radebe
The new banking scam with a caller pretending to be from a bank and alerting me of fraud activity on my account nearly got me yesterday.
The fake Standard Bank call centre agent was very convincing in her tone and mannerism. The killer factor of her approach was the fact that she had my personal details: names, address, mobile number, email and account number. She had recited these to me before demanding that I give her the expiry date on my bank card which got me thinking. The code switching from English to Xhosa had me going though.
The call went along these lines:
Fake Bank Agent: Hello. Is that Mr P Radebe?
Me: Yes it is.
Fake Bank Agent: Mr Radebe. My name is Lungelo Something. I’m calling you from Standard Bank Fraud Division. Please note that this call may be recorded for quality and security purposes.
I’m gonna give you a reference number so that you can track this conversation. Your reference number is: 44028087/stdi. The stdi stands Standard Bank Investigations.
Mr Radebe, your account has a fraud alert and we need to get to the bottom of it.
Me: What do you mean?
Fake Bank Agent: Some people are taking money out of your account. Do you know a company called SA Getaway?
Fake Bank Agent: This company is debiting your account every month by R99. How often do you check your account Mr Radebe?
The R99 got me because I’ve been struggling with the R99 debit scam for quite a while now.
Me: Not often enough. I glance through it (account) every month but not thorough enough to pick up an un-authorised R99 debit. Once in three months I will do a thorough check.
Fake Bank Agent: You must check your account more often Mr Radebe to avoid fraudulent activity. Let me just confirm these details with you and we will then stop these people from stealing your hard earned money.
Your names are …
Your account number is …
Your address is …
Your mobile phone number is …
Your email address is …
I answered yes in all. But I must say I was getting a bit uncomfortable.
And then she demands expiry date of my bank card.
Me: But why? What’s that got to do with anything?
Fake Bank Agent: We are trying to check the detail used by the fraudsters against your details.
Me: I’m getting uncomfortable with this thing. I mean how do I know you actually calling from a bank? How do I know you’re not trying to scam me?
And then there is a back and forth engagement and she gets irritated and threatens to close my account.
Fake Bank Agent: You know I’m trying to help you here. Why are you getting arrogant with me. I could just close your account and then you will have to go and get an affidavit to reopen it and that will take about three weeks.
Me: (Now I’m irritated) Ok! Try that!
Fake Bank Agent: I’m not gonna try, I’m just gonna close your account.
Me: Actually F$@& You
And I hear that Xhosa exclamation: Gaaaaa! before the Fake Bank Agent disappears.
And so I call the real Standard Bank fraud division to double check my suspicion. When I quote the reference number given to me by the faker, the real Standard Bank call centre agent says we don’t have such reference numbers. She (the Fake Bank Agent) nearly had me. Or did she?
I’m worried by the fact that she’s got so much of my personal information. Even though my attacker came with a fake Standard Bank tag, clearly this scam can be directed at any of the major banks including, Absa, First National Bank (FNB), Nedbank, Investec and Capitec. Be careful!