"It only takes a few minutes for a thief to crack
your PIN and draw cash from your account."

One of our staff recently had her purse stolen.  As with most of us, it contained three vital pieces of information that allowed the thieves to withdraw from her personal savings account within minutes of the theft: bank card, diary and ID book.

Although the cards were stopped within 30-minutes of the infraction, the conniving crooks had accessed the accounts, cracked the PIN and withdrawn money – money that will not be recouped or repaid.  ABSA's Fraud Division has told us that an alarmingly high percentage of people use part of their ID number as pin numbers for their bank cards.  ID numbers are arranged in a 6-4-3 format, which means that within a few seconds, a PIN can be cracked and the security of that account will be compromised.

If a PIN number is compromised in this manner, or written on the back page of a diary (you’re probably reaching for yours now…), most banks will hold the account holder liable for any and all financial losses associated with the card theft.  Criminals are street-savvy and only need a few minutes to empty your account, which means that you need to up your personal security measures as soon as possible.

Here are three things that you can do now:
  1. If your PIN is written down, keep that document in a separate place to your where you keep your card (i.e. don’t keep both in your possession at the same time)
  2. If your PIN contains the numbers that appear in your date of birth or ID number, change it immediately to another number that only you will remember
  3. Decrease your daily ATM withdrawal and EAP limit (these are normally set to a default of R1000 but may be as much as R10 000 on current accounts, or higher on business accounts)

And remember that awareness is crucial to your personal safety and security.  Always check that you know where your personal possessions are and that they are safe.  If you leave them in a locker at gym or work, make sure you have a lock on the door.  Never leave your possessions unattended in your car or in a public place.  Be safe!