Are you having trouble with your bank? Using Resolver, you can learn more about your banking rights and submit a complaint for free!
Who is your issue with?
Millions of South African consumers trust banks with their money and livelihood. Over the years, security has become the top concern for many bank customers, with fraud in the industry steadily climbing with each passing year. The move to mobile and internet banking may have saved a lot of us time and paperwork, but it has not eliminated the thousands of banking issues or problems that we encounter daily. As with many other issues, problems with your bank are always best dealt with as soon as possible and to raise these efficiently and effectively it will be helpful to familiarise yourself with your basic banking rights. If you feel you are not being treated fairly by your bank, you can easily lodge your complaint through Resolver and if need be, we will help you escalate your issue.
Banks offer a plethora of services and are subject to provisions from multiple acts. Your banking rights are protected by various legislations and regulations including the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), National Credit Act (NCA), Short-term and Long-term Insurance Acts and the Banking Association of South Africa's Code of Banking Practice.
Whether you prefer online and mobile banking or the traditional sometimes tedious method of branch banking, you are protected and entitled to a seamless experience and you should be free to report any discrepancies and inconveniences to your bank and have them looked into and resolved to your satisfaction.
My mobile or internet banking is giving me problems!
Sometimes internet banking and mobile banking apps can be a problem. Whether it is a technical issue, i.e. the app won't open, transactions are being duplicated or not processed at all or maybe you aren’t receiving the One Time Pin (OTP) that you requested, you should immediately alert your bank of the issue.
Another common issue with mobile and online banking is trouble logging in. If you can’t log into your mobile or internet banking, double check your details to make sure you’ve entered the correct information. If you have done so contact your bank immediately, as your account may have been compromised. If you have forgotten your password/PIN, select the “forgot PIN” option to reset your password or contact your bank via Resolver and ask for assistance.
Why am I not receiving my statement?
If you are not receiving your bank statement, you need to check that the email or postal/physical address details that you provided are correct and updated where necessary. If your details are correct but you are still not receiving your statement, you should contact your bank and query the issue.
If your details have changed and need to be updated, make sure you do this at the soonest. Your statement may contain sensitive information and can contain evidence of debit order fraud, unknown and/or duplicate transactions. Depending on your bank, you can update some details yourself via internet banking or your banking app, other details can only be updated by speaking to a consultant or visiting the branch. If you want to update your details and are not sure how to go about it, contact your bank's customer service centre and ask for assistance.
Similarly, if your online profile, or statement for that matter, displays your old details like your previous physical and mailing address even though you updated them previously, contact your bank immediately and ask to have your details updated. If you have contacted your service provider's customer care centre and your details are still not updated, you can escalate your complaint to a higher point of authority - Resolver can help you in this regard.
The branch in my area is not up to standard!
If the ATM is faulty or the branch facilities are unsafe, inadequate or not available, you should raise your issue with the branch’s customer service department immediately.
Excessive bank charges are a usual cause of frustration for consumers. Many consumers don’t understand some of the charges that mysteriously pop up on their statements, so they just accept them as the normal charges and move on.
The bank's obligation to disclose all charges and fees
Banks are obligated to tell you about any and all charges you may incur when you bank with them. Every now and then, depending on different events in the economy, banks will adjust their pricing - you must also be duly informed of such changes. This is so you are aware of the charges debited from your account.
I didn't know this is what I would be paying!
If you are a victim of hidden charges or misleading marketing/advertising, you may actually be up for a refund. As aforementioned, banks must disclose all the fees applicable to your bank account upfront. This is particularly a problem if you open the account telephonically because sometimes consultants neglect to inform you of the period within which the marketed charges apply or the criteria that would otherwise qualify you for the discounted or lower fees.
As a consumer, you are entitled to pay what you are offered - always read the fine print of the offer as it may have a long list of exclusions that were only mentioned candidly in the sales pitch.
If you find that you were being charged something other than what you signed up for, you should get in touch with your bank and have them explain the discrepancy. If it is a definite case of misleading advertising or marketing, you should go on to lodge a formal complaint about it.
The 2018 VAT hike from 14% to 15% which took effect in April resulted in many bank's adjusting their pricing structure.
It will be helpful for you to find out how your account' or package was affected by these changes so that you are aware of how much more you should expect to pay in banking fees and other charges.
Tips to help you save on bank charges:
- Know your charges: Before you start pulling hairs, understand your bank’s pricing structure and the different types of charges. Also always read the Ts & Cs and Pricing Guide so you know the monthly caps applicable for different transactions.
- Avoid unnecessary withdrawals: Most banks offer unlimited free swipes and swiping rewards. Withdrawing money too often attracts more charges. If you really need money, rather withdraw from till points.
- Don't transact at other bank's ATMs: Using a different bank's ATM can cost you up to double the cost of using your bank's ATM.
Remember, part of knowing your charges also includes understanding your own transaction patterns. There may be something in the water if no price increase was announced and you made ‘routine’ transaction all month long. So it may be worth it to contact your bank and find out why your charges have suddenly gone up. It may sound unbelievable, but sometimes banks and even machines make mistakes.
Resolver tip: Check your bank statement regularly, it is usually the quickest way to spot unknown and extra charges. In some instances, you may find that the extra charges are a result of an unauthorised transaction in your account, in which case you should alert your bank of suspected fraud.The rule of thumb for bank charges is simple, if they have increased and you don’t understand why, ask your bank!
Your bank account and cards are very important and sensitive and your bank should afford you protection from the liability of them being compromised in any way. You are also, however, responsible for protecting your details. With bank card fraud reaching almost R800m in South Africa, there has never been a more pressing time for you to protect your plastic and access details.
What must I do if my card is lost or stolen?
As soon as you realise your bank card has been stolen or is lost, contact your bank to cancel the card or do so using the banking app if your bank has that option. Failing to do this may result in unknown or unauthorised transactions. Take note of the time you lost your card or when it was stolen so that your bank will know you didn’t authorise any transactions that occurred after that time, in this way you won’t be held liable for those payments.
If transactions are effected on your card using your PIN, the bank will hold you responsible for those transactions and can't refund you any monies lost as a result. You must never disclose your PIN, or other unique means of personal identification to anyone, including an employee of the bank. Always contact your bank as soon as your card or PIN has been compromised to have it changed.
Why is my card blocked?
For security purposes most banks will block your card if they suspect there has been fraudulent activity taking place in your account. Sometimes a genuine transaction like a cash withdrawal in a different city can be flagged as potentially fraudulent and get blocked by your bank. When that happens you should contact your bank and clarify the situation. Usually they will require you to verify that it is indeed you, once this is done, you should be able to successfully make the purchase or payment. In some instances unfortunately, this would mean you need to visit a branch. Remember to notify your bank if you are travelling overseas so that these unfamiliar transactions aren’t flagged to avoid a blocked card and you being left penniless in foreign place.
If you enter your card PIN incorrectly three times, your card will also be blocked. In order to have it unblocked and change your PIN, most banks require you to physically visit your nearest branch with proof of identification and the card, but with some you can change it yourself via online banking.
Resolver tip: After entering your PIN incorrectly twice, you may have actually just forgotten your PIN! Rather have it changed and save yourself the trouble of a blocked account.
Can I still get money in my account if my account has been deactivated?
You still have access to your money when your account is deactivated, the only difference is that you will have to verify your details with your bank before you can access it. Account deactivation usually means your account was marked dormant due to inactivity. Depending on your bank, your account will be considered dormant after inactivity for between 3 to 12 months. If the account remains inactive, it will be closed and you will have to open a new one.
Note that your account continues to incur charges when it is inactive. So if you had money in the account, you may only be able to recover a portion of it.
To have your account reactivated or to claim funds, you will have to contact your bank for assistance, you can do this for free using Resolver. You will usually be required to provide documentation that verifies that you are the account holder, such as your ID document or proof of address.
I sent money to the wrong account, what now?
Whether you blame it on the fat finger syndrome or just bad luck, transferring money to the wrong account is not something you ever want to experience.
Unfortunately, banks act on information supplied to them so they can’t simply disclose the contact details of one of their clients because you made a mistake. If they did, it would compromise their clients privacy and security in cases where the claims are malicious and not legitimate.
Once you realise that you transferred or deposited money into the wrong account, contact the receiving bank immediately and explain the situation. They will try and get into contact with the receiving party to verify whether or not it was indeed a mistake. If the person does acknowledge the mistake, the money will be transferred back into your account.
It is important to note that the bank cannot legally reverse the money in the receiving beneficiary’s account if they refute your claim, regardless of whether or not it is true. If that is the case, you have the option of either lodging a complaint with the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) or taking the more expensive route of seeking legal help and taking the matter to court. Before complaining to the OBS, you must first allow the bank to try and resolve the matter. Although pursuing legal action might have the best guarantee of a positive outcome, it may not always be worth it if it is going to cost you three times what you lost.
According to the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA), you have the right to the return of money that you incorrectly deposited into someone else's account on the basis of unjust enrichment. And where possible, the bank/s should assist you in the recovery of those funds. Refusing to return or spending money that you did not work for and are fairly certain was credited to your account erroneously constitutes unjust enrichment and theft.
In addition, some banks have a list of entities' accounts for which they cannot reverse incorrect payments to. Find out through your bank's website or at a branch what the terms and conditions are regarding transfer reversals so you know what your chances of recovery are.
Tip: When sending money, double-check the account number or phone number you are sending to at least twice. If you are transferring large amounts of money, first send a small amount and wait for the transfer beneficiary to confirm receipt then transfer the rest of the funds to the same account. This may attract extra bank charges, but if it a hefty sum of money, it may very well be worth it.
I don't receive any interest in my savings account
Most times, interest earned on your savings account is hard to notice if you constantly transact with that account and have monies coming in regularly. Check your bank statement to see how much interest was credited to your account. If you did not receive the interest that you should have, contact your bank on Resolver and query the issue.
Remember, the interest rate applied to your savings account will depend on how much you have in your account. There is a certain minimum balance required in order to start earning interest - this amount will vary from bank to bank. This information can be found on your bank's website, alternatively, you could contact your bank and ask about the different applicable interest rates.
I am tired of my bank giving me poor service, can I switch my bank account?
You are entitled to switch your bank account if you are not happy with the service that you receive. Your bank cannot make it difficult for you to switch your bank account and if this is the case you can escalate your complaint to the Ombudsman for Banking Services using Resolver.
When switching your bank account, you must give your old bank a clear instruction to close your account. It is usually recommended that you do this in writing in case an issue arises, that way you’ll have written proof of and when you gave the instruction. It is advisable to inform your old bank to keep the old account open for at least 6 weeks, so that you can make sure that all your transactions have been switched to the new account. Also, leave sufficient money in the old account for any transactions that may go through that account in the interim.
Direct debit bounced
The most common reason for a direct debit to bounce is having insufficient funds in your account. If this happens, you should contact the company debiting your account and ask them to resubmit the debit order but only if you now have the money in your account. Most, if not all South African banks will charge you a fee for every bounced direct debit. In addition, late payment fees and interest will be added to your account.
One way to avoid this is to arrange for your debit order payments to go off soon after payday while you still have enough money in your account. If you notice a trend of your salary being paid on different dates, it will help you to, if you can, move some of your obligations or just save some money on the side for those debits. If your salary is paid later than usual, you may have a claim against your boss for bounced debit order payments' charges provided that a payday date is stated in your employment contract. Remember, every bounced debit order payment goes up against your credit report and may affect your chances of getting credit in the future, so you should do your best to ensure you don't miss a payment.
My card has expired!
Most banks will notify you when your card's expiration date approaches and advise you on what to do to have it replaced - which is normally to go to your nearest branch with proof of identification where a new card will be issued to you, unless you can and do, depending on your bank, elect to have it delivered.
Note that you may be charged a fee for having a new card issued to you. Your account number does not change in this regard, only your card number and CVV number will change.
Credit cards are a great tool for cash flow management and often provide you with a financial cushion to help with early debit order collections and other cash-demanding situations that you may not always see coming.
Your credit rights are protected by the National Credit Act (NCA). The office of the Credit Ombuds deals with complaints relating to the violation of those rights. As a consumer, it will be useful to familiarise yourself with these so you know what to do if you find yourself in an unsavoury situation with your credit provider.
Your basic credit rights
Your credit rights apply to all other forms of credit, not just credit cards.
- Credit application and discrimination: You have the right to apply for credit. However, this doesn’t mean that you have the right to be granted credit. In determining whether or not you qualify for a credit card, banks must use a fair criteria that doesn’t discriminate against you.
- Reasons for rejection: If your credit card application was rejected, you have the right to know why. Upon your request, the bank is obligated to give you written reasons for rejecting your application. This rule also applies to the refusal to increase your credit card limit or renew an expiring credit card and the offering of a lower credit limit.
- Access to credit records: You have the right to access and challenge your credit record. If you challenge the accuracy of the listed information in your report, the bank is obligated to produce evidence in support of the listing. Failure of which will result in the credit bureau removing the information.
- Receipt of documents: Every month, you should receive a statement clearly indicating the minimum payment amount and date as well as your outstanding balance. If you are not fluent in English or prefer another language, you are entitled to request documents from your bank in any of the official languages of South Africa.
My interest rate is too high!
If you make your credit card payments late, you will be left with a heap of high interest charges, it is beneficial to make those payments in time and consistently.
Most banks may charge you a higher interest rate if your credit profile is not very good, however, they may renegotiate the rate with you at a later stage. If you are looking to have your interest rate lowered, it is advisable to first check with any of the major credit bureau that your credit profile has indeed improved and that there are no mistakes in your profile that may make the bank pessimistic about lowering your rate. Banks are also more likely to lower your rate slightly if you use your credit card regularly and pay it off like clockwork. You can also obtain competitive rates from other banks before requesting a rate renegotiation to support the review. Remember, lowering your interest rate by even the slightest number can save you a lot of money that you can then use to pay off the outstanding balance and save you even more in the future.
Some banks are more open to an interest rate review than others, so you may have to be a little more persistent depending on your bank. If you have no outstanding balance on your card, you can consider moving to another bank if your bank will not budge and the competitive interest rate is really low.
I missed a payment, will my bank deactivate my card?
If you miss your monthly payment, you will be charged a late payment fee. Missing payments regularly may result in the bank reducing your credit limit to protect both you and themselves.
The interest I was charged is incorrect
Make sure you understand exactly when, how and on what balances interest is charged to your account, you can find information relating to this on your bank's website or in your agreement. If you do not understand this, contact your bank's credit card division and they will explain it to you. In the event that you feel the interest calculation may be incorrect, contact your bank's credit card division and query the issue.
I was charged interest in the interest-free period
If you do not follow the interest-free period rules, like not settling the full outstanding balance when it is due, you will be charged interest.
How the interest-free period works
Most credit cards have a 55 day interest free period. In this period, you pay no interest provided you pay the full outstanding balance by the due date. This date should be in your statement.
What you need to know about the 55 day interest-free period:
- It applies to purchases, not cash transactions and transfers. So you will still incur charges in that regard during this period.
- Each purchase does not get its own zero interest period. The period is applied to your purchases based on when your credit card statement begins (i.e. 55 days from the beginning of the statement.)
- If you fail to pay the minimum payment before the date specified, you will be charged interest on the full amount of the purchases for that statement period, even if your card has an interest free period.
In essence, the interest free period decreases every day. A purchase that is made 5 days after the cycle starts, will only be interest-free for 50 days. Billing cycles typically run for 30 days, which means you have until the following month to pay off the outstanding balance in full, interest free. If you fail to do so, you will be charged interest.
Internet and mobile banking is a convenience a lot of us wouldn’t want to give up. Statistics indicate that more and more South African users are getting comfortable enough to rely on mobile and online banking to manage their finances. Unfortunately, criminals are also constantly finding new ways to remotely exploit consumers.
What should I do if I suspect fraud on my account?
If you suspect fraud on your account, report it immediately!
Reasons to suspect fraud on your card account may include receiving an unexpected email or SMS from your bank asking you to click a link to change or update your details, receiving an OTP that you did not request or identifying an unknown transaction on your statement.
If you bank online, you should be concerned if you are alerted to a SIM swop you did not effect and contact your service provider, not your bank, to cancel the swop and flag your SIM. For extra precaution, change your banking passwords until the attempt has been fully investigated and the threat eliminated. Also, monitor activity on your account meticulously, reporting any inconsistencies as soon as they arise from the date of the attempt.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has issued warnings to consumers to be on the lookout for the following banking scams in 2018:
Phishing is an attempt by fraudsters to obtain sensitive information from clients. It starts with an unrequested email disguised as correspondence from your bank asking you to verify your details or other confidential information relating to your account/s. The email will contain a link to a spoof site that is almost identical to that of your bank. Thereafter, you will be requested to enter your personal details, which are then sent to whoever is attempting to defraud you, giving them access to your accounts and funds.
Vishing (voice phishing)
Vishing is when a fraudster pretending to be a consultant or agent from your bank calls you and tries to manipulate or convince you to reveal sensitive information.
SMishing (SMS phishing)
This works similarly to phishing - you will receive an SMS disguised as correspondence from your bank instructing you to click through to a site for an important update or to verify your information. From there you’ll be asked to input your details which will give the fraudster access to your card/account. In some cases, clicking the link can infect your phone with a virus or malware designed by fraudsters to access personal data on your device.
Banks will never ask for your card PIN, online profile password or any other sensitive information via email.
How to protect yourself
- If you receive correspondence that seems suspicious or requests highly sensitive information in order to reverse a fraudulent transaction or stop your account from being closed, contact your bank as soon as you can and report the communication. You should also proceed to block the sender so you don't fall for it in the future.
- If you have clicked on a link in an email, always check that the website is secure and the URL (website address) is the one you usually use to visit your bank’s site. Again, if you aren’t sure, call your bank’s customer care department and verify this.
- Never download apps or software from unrequested SMSs.
- After you find out that the addresses are not legitimate, block them immediately.
- Familiarise yourself with your bank’s methods of communication and the number or email address they typically use.
Debit order fraud
Over the past few years, thousands of consumers have fallen victim to debit order scams and marketing gimmicks from companies that process fraudulent debit orders against their accounts. While that is an already stressful situation, the position of banks on the matter is a further blow to consumers - many of whom are aggrieved with their banks and struggle to understand the complexity of why their bank can’t simply stop the debit orders.
The most common scams deduct small amounts that are just under R100, like R69, R79 and R99. The transaction can be processed twice on some occasions. Although uncommon and often easier to spot, these debits can go as high as R299 (and possibly more). These transactions can end up costing you thousands if you don't pick them up for an extended period. Most banks don’t notify you of transactions below R100. You are pretty much flying blind when it comes to these ‘insignificant’ amounts if you don’t check your statement or know exactly how much is in your account at any given time. What makes matters worse is that you may have many debit orders going off at once and pay little attention to every single notification.
It is important to note that legitimate companies can also deduct money from your account incorrectly. Sometimes a company continues to debit your account even after you cancelled whatever contract you had with them, or they debit much more than you agreed to.
Depending on your bank, you can use your mobile banking app or internet banking to reverse fraudulent debit orders of less than R200 that occurred within the last 40 days. Once you have reversed the transaction, ask your bank to process a stop payment order. Note this may only be a temporary solution as the stop payment order only works if the payment reference remains unchanged. A thorough monthly check remains crucial. You can also dispute debit orders after more than 40 days of their processing. Before reversing the transaction, your bank will check the validity of the transaction with the collector’s bank.
I can’t afford repayments, will my bank help me?
If you are struggling to meet your financial obligations, it is advisable that you contact your bank and discuss your difficulties with them- they will help you make an arrangement for you to settle your debt. Do not ignore any communications from your bank. Alternatively you may consult a debt counselor.
My application was rejected!
While you have a right to apply for a loan, banks are not obligated to approve your application. In determining whether or not you qualify for a loan, they must use a fair criteria that doesn’t discriminate against you. You also have the right to ask for the reasons for the rejection, and the bank must give you those reasons in writing.
Credit life insurance has, for the most part, flown under the radar when it comes to regulation. This was mostly because it was sold as a bundle product with other credit products. Many consumers are still in the dark when it comes to this type of insurance, and they or their families have to bear the brunt of paying old debts if, for instance, the breadwinner of the family died.
What is credit life insurance?
Credit life insurance, sometimes referred to as payment protection insurance, is put in place by banks as a way for them to be able to recover their money in the unfortunate event that you become temporarily or permanently disabled, critically ill, lose your job or you die. You pay premiums just as you would with normal insurance and should any of the above occur, the payments will be worked into your loan repayment, either to pay it off in full or to settle a portion of it.
How do I know I was mis-sold credit life insurance?
In the past few years, some well-known names in the retail industry have been taken to task by the National Consumer Tribunal for selling loss of employment credit cover to pensioners and self-employed consumers. Retrenchment for pensioners doesn’t quite sound right… does it?
In 2017, a new set of credit life regulations were drawn up and added to the National Credit Act (section 171) by Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies. The Act now sets out the following instances of credit life mis-selling:
- You were unemployed or self-employed at the time you took out the policy but a cost related to the risk of unemployment/retrenchment was included.
- You are a pensioner and your policy includes a cost for the risk of occupational disability and/or unemployment.
- You were told that you have to take out the credit life policy with the bank in order for them to grant you a loan rather than being able to choose your preferred credit life insurer.
If you think your credit life insurance policy was mis-sold to you, you can lodge a formal complaint on Resolver.
My premium is too high!
If you were quoted an unreasonable premium, you are entitled to a refund of your monies. Furthermore, the NCA has set limitations on the premiums that banks can charge you for credit life.
For mortgage agreements exceeding R450 000, insurers can charge you a maximum of R2 per R1000 of the amount owing. This is the same for ‘affordable mortgage agreements’ (where the principal amount is less or equal to R450 000) for individuals below the age of 55. For those older than 55, R2,50 per R1000 will apply as the premium ceiling.
Credit facilities and all other credit agreements are subject to a maximum premium of R4,50 per R1000.
When will my credit insurer not payout?
There are some exceptions which insurers are permitted to exclude from credit life. These include death resulting from the use of drugs, suicide or military obligations and unemployment or loss of income that results from lawful dismissal due to misconduct, participation in unprotected strike action or resignation.
Can I complain about bad service from my bank?
As a consumer, you are entitled to friendly and efficient service from your bank and its staff members, if you feel you that are not being treated the way you should be or that you are not receiving the best service, you should raise a complaint with the bank right away. You can go on to lodge a formal complaint through Resolver.
Can my bank decline to grant me credit?
Depending on their internal processes, a bank can decline to grant you credit. If your bank has refused to grant you credit or declined your application for credit, you have the right to ask for these reasons of refusal, which must be given to you in writing.
Why does my bank want me to verify my details?
Your bank is obliged by law to verify your identity when you seek to open an account. This is necessary to protect the bank's customers, the public and the bank itself against the misuse of the banking system. You will therefore be requested to provide your bank with the relevant identification and verification documents when you first open an account.
Your bank may also require you to update the identification and verification documentation on a regular basis, including when there is a change in your circumstances (e.g. change of name upon marriage, change of residential address, or change in company details). You should cooperate with your bank and give them the required information so that your account is not frozen.
What do I do if my issue has not been resolved?
If you feel that the bank has not provided you with a satisfactory resolution, then 20 days after raising the complaint to the bank, Resolver will help you escalate your complaint to The Ombudsman for Banking Services and get your matter resolved fairly.
You can raise issues with 7 companies in General banking services
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