The bank said it had detected abnormally high volumes and disputes of such suspicious debit orders in December and January using the bank’s mobile app and online banking, among other channels.

After contacting a number of customers to validate the debit order mandates provided by Procall, it found that they had not authorised this.

“Our investigations have provided sufficient proof that the impacted customers had not provided a mandate for the debit order and as result, the debits to customer accounts were unauthorised,” FNB Consumer Chief Executive Dr Christoph Nieuwoudt said, adding that the bank was reversing all Procall debit orders and associated charges, as well as those by Mzansi.

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“We are working with the Payments Association of South Africa (Past) and the South African Banking Risk and Information Centre on the matter and will be pursuing criminal charges,” Nieuwoudt added.

FNB was also deploying analytical, forensic and legal expertise to protect customers against unauthorised debit orders, he said, urging clients to regularly review their bank statements for abnormalities.

Pasa CEO Walter Volker said the industry would not allow any behaviour that undermined the efficiency of what he called the country’s world-class payment system.

“Alongside efforts to continuously improve the efficiency of the overall payments system, we are consistently working with financial institutions and other partners to clamp down on debit order abuse,” he said.

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FNB said its customers could stop, dispute or reverse unauthorised debit orders of less than R200 free of charge using its app or via online and cellphone banking.

In addition, the bank notifies customers via SMS every time a new debit order is raised on their accounts, thereby making it possible for them to stop, dispute and reverse it.

Debit orders higher than R200 can also be blocked or reversed via the bank’s contact centre or at any of its branches.

– African News Agency