The banking industry has released its annual crime statistics for 2020, and the figures for digital banking fraud are concerning.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), which released the statistics on behalf of the banking industry, said digital banking fraud rose by a third last year as criminals turned to digital channels during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
“Covid-19, in conjunction with the implementation of regulations of the Disaster Management Act, had a notable influence on financial crime trends in 2020,” Sabric said in a statement.
“It triggered changes in human behaviour, human movement and policing, creating new opportunities for criminals, and this significantly impacted the number of crime incidents,” it said.
“While some crime types decreased, others increased as criminals exploited Covid-19 for their own gain. Overall, Sabric has seen an increase in banking crime incidents.”
As customers turned to online shopping and settling payments in apps, criminals enhanced their efforts to “phish” customers to steal their personal data to defraud them on digital and online platforms. This led to a spike in digital banking fraud, Sabric said.
Contact crime down
Debit card fraud rose by 22%, while credit card fraud decreased by 7%.
Contact crime was impacted by the restriction of movement and visible policing, resulting in a decrease in incidents. Associated robberies saw a decrease of 24% in 2020 when compared to 2019, with decreases most evident in the Free State, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.
While ATM attacks decreased by 9% overall, ATM bombings increased by 20%. Cash-in-transit robberies decreased significantly due to the level-5 lockdown in April and May 2020, but once restrictions were lifted these increased again as “criminals were able to move with fewer restrictions and fear of roadblocks and searches”. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media