Internet banking tops ombusman complaints

Internet banking tops the list of complaints received by the Ombudsman for Banking Services for the first time in the 20-year history of the ombudsman’s office. As more people use internet and app banking, there is a need for increased security measures, Ombudsman Reana Steyn says in her latest annual report.

The annual report also shows that, most of the time, Steyn found in favour of the banks in complaints related to internet banking.

The ombudsman’s office closed 1377 cases relating to internet banking, finding in favour of the banks 77% of the time and in favour of consumers in only 23% of cases.

Steyn says the fact that cellphone banking fraud and phishing fraud made up 77% of the internet banking cases arising from complaints to the ombudsman’s office shows the need for increased security.

Phishing occurs when fraudsters seek to obtain your internet banking passwords by posing as your bank or another trustworthy entity that you are used to communicating with via e-mail.

Complaints about internet banking were up 2% last year on those in 2016 and there was a 10% decrease in complaints about ATMs.

ATMs still, however, attracted lots of complaints – the second-biggest category of complaints – to the ombudsman last year, and in 82% of these cases, the ombudsman found in favour of the banks.

Credit cards were the source of the third-biggest category of complaints last year and the ombudsman found in favour of the bank in 67% of cases.

In fact, in every type of complaint except for those relating to debit orders, the ombudsman found in favour of the bank most of the time.

Steyn says it is unfortunate that consumers who are unsuccessful with their complaints often criticise the ombudsman’s office for being biased.

“Our office works very hard to uphold high standards in adjudication and in applying the law to the fact of the case.

The office found in favour of complainants in 27% of all cases, indicating that most matters capable of early resolution were resolved at the bank,” she says.

Last year, the ombudsman closed 200 cases arising from complaints about debit orders, and found in favour of consumers in 103 of those complaints (52%). It took an average of 48 days (including weekends) for the ombudsman to close a case, and 99% of the cases were closed within four months last year, the ombudsman’s latest annual report shows.