CHAIRMAN

23.7.2019 

THE CGSO WARNS THE PUBLIC ABOUT S.A. TRAMPOLINE

The Office of the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) is the consumer goods and services industry’s compulsory Ombud scheme which has been  accredited by the Minister of Trade and Industry in terms of section 82(2) of the Consumer Protection Act(CPA). The CGSO enforces the Consumer Goods and Services Industry Code of Conduct by mediating disputes between consumers and suppliers of goods and services. The service is free to consumers.

The CGSO warns the public against making online purchases from SA Trampoline. SA Trampoline is an online business which manufactures and installs trampolines. The CGSO has received numerous complaints from consumers who have made a full payment or deposits ranging between R3200 and R6300 to SA Trampoline on the promise that the goods would be delivered and installed within 7 to 14 working days. The company has, after numerous communications from the consumers and our office failed to deliver the goods or refund consumers. In most cases more than three months had passed since the orders were placed. The owner of the company has not disputed receiving the monies but has failed to honour his promises to deliver and install the goods.

“While we will escalate the matter to the National Consumer Commission for further investigation and possible prosecution, we cannot allow this supplier to continue taking hard earned monies from consumers with the intention not to deliver the goods, said Ms Magauta Mphahlele, the Ombudsman. Ms Mphahlele further said that the CGSO Code requires them to create consumer awareness and also publish the type of complaints they receive as well as the suppliers against whom the complaints are lodged. “Many suppliers cooperate with our office when complaints are lodged against them but we still have a sizeable percentage that acts like SA Trampoline. We will continue to publish the names of non-cooperative suppliers, especially in instances where they take peoples monies with no intention to deliver the goods or services” said Ms Mphahlele.

SA Trampoline is in possible contravention of  section 19 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA)  which provides that a supplier is generally responsible for the delivery of goods or the performance of the services on the agreed date and at the agreed time or within reasonable time, and at the agreed place unless the agreement between the parties provides differently. Where the supplier fails to deliver as promised, the consumer is entitled to cancel the agreement without any penalty and receive a refund. In some instances, section 46 of the Electronic Communication and Transactions Act (“ECTA”) will apply. It provides that “The supplier must execute the order within 30 days after the day on which the supplier received the order, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. (2) Where a supplier has failed to execute the  order within 30 days or within the agreed period, the consumer may cancel the agreement with seven days’ written notice. (3) If a supplier is unable to perform in terms of the agreement on the grounds that the goods or services ordered are unavailable, the supplier must immediately notify the consumer of this fact and refund any payments within 30 days after the date of such notification.”

The CGSO urges consumers to verify the credentials of online suppliers and their track record in delivering what they promise before paying upfront for orders.

Ends

ISSUED BY OUMA RAMARU ON BEHALF THE CONSUMER GOODS AND SERVICES OMBUD

TEL: (011)  781-2607           CELL:  073 899 9551

EMAIL: oumar@cgso.org.za

CGSO sharecall helpline (0860 000272)

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Big petrol price cut clipped by hike in electricity costs

Jun 30 2019 19:00 

Fin24 correspondent
Although petrol and diesel costs will be dropping for the first time in six months on Wednesday, consumers have little to celebrate as electricity tariffs start to kick in from Monday July, 1.
Petrol 95 will fall by 95 cents a litre and 93 octane by 96 cents at midnight on Tuesday.
Diesel (0.05% sulphur) will decrease by 74 cents and diesel (0.005% sulphur) by 75 c/l.

  • If price reductions are sustained, it will have a beneficial effect for all consumers, SA National Consumer Union deputy chairperson Clif Johnston told Fin24.

“Consumers buying petrol, diesel, paraffin and gas will benefit immediately – for example refuelling a typical car should work out some R30-R40 cheaper after the reduction.”

However, he noted that other consumers will not be so lucky as bus and taxi fares are unlikely to go down.

“Service providers tend to cash in on cost reductions rather than to pass the savings on to consumers. In the longer run a lower fuel price should mean that public transport prices, and indeed prices of general goods and services, should not increase as much as if the current fuel prices were to be sustained,” said Johnston.

Sancu urged consumers to work out a budget and to spend wisely.

However, economists says the reduction in fuel prices serves to neutralise the costs of the increase in electricity tariffs.

“The decrease in fuel certainly comes as a relief without a doubt for consumers following the tightening of the screws on them over the past few years due to low economic growth and the higher taxes and the fear of retrenchment in a weak economy,” director and chief economist at Econometrix, Azar Jammine told Fin24.

He said what this amounts to is a decrease of around 6% in the price of petrol and diesel, but this accounts for about 4.5% of disposable income of most people.

“Essentially it will reduce the cost of living by R2.50 for every R1000 that people have.”

Jammine pointed out the difference is that while electricity tariffs will remain in place for the whole year, petrol and diesel prices are volatile.

Price of electricity 

Economist Mike Schüssler told Fin24 the decrease in fuel costs is good news and might strengthen the case for interest rates cuts as it helps to stabilise the inflation rate which was at 4.5% last month.

“The problem however is the electricity price increase that will come into effect tomorrow [Monday] for most municipalities so it negates the petrol price drop.”

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Businesstech 23.5.2019

South Africans are spending less on their weekly shopping trip

Staff Writer 22 May 2019

South African shoppers are spending less, but are still stretching their wallets, according to Tiger Brand’s interim report for the six months ending March 2019.

Tiger Brands, which carries brands including Koo canned foods, All Gold, and Tastic rice, said that revenue from continuing operations fell 2% to R15.4 billion in the interim period.

Group operating income declined 24% to R1.5 billion, while headline earnings per share (HEPS) from continuing operations was down 12% to 762 cents, from 868 cents.

The group declared an interim dividend of 321 cents per share, down 15% due to recent changes in the group’s dividend policy. It also declared a special dividend of 306 cents per share.

In its report, Tiger Brands highlighted data from Nielsen shopping surveys showing that South Africans spend around R11,650 on groceries annually – a 10% decline compared to July 2018.

This spend is spread out across 60 shopping trips a year, with the average basket value being R194 – R15 less than in July 2018.

The report cites Eskom as a growing concern due to its destabilising fiscal position, exchange rate volatility and the fact that disposable income has been impacted by electricity and fuel inflation.

How South Africans are shopping

The report also shows that South Africans are increasingly shopping on promotion, with 40% of respondents stating that they read newspaper broadsheets for specials, while 65% said that they actively compare prices across brands.

This has lead to changes in what South Africans are buying, Tiger Brands said.

It found that that South Africans are spending more on:

Toilet paper
Soya-based substitutes
Canned pilchards
Soap
Personal care
Baby
Ready-to-eat cereals
Ingredients

In comparison, it found that South Africans are spending less on:

Maize meal
Fresh/frozen chicken
Chilled processed meats
Flour 
Cooking oil
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MEDIA RELEASE
NATIONAL CREDIT REGULATOR 9.4.2019
9  April 2019                             

Tribunal finds that the on the road fee, admin fee and handling fee charged by Volkswagen Financial Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd on credit agreements are unlawful 
                                         

The National Consumer Tribunal (Tribunal) has handed down judgment confirming a Compliance Notice issued by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) to Volkswagen Financial Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd for charging consumers the “on the road” fee, admin fee and handling fee on credit agreements.

In its judgment, the Tribunal found that the “on the road” fee, admin fee and handling fee charged by Volkswagen Financial Services to consumers on credit agreements are not permitted by the National Credit Act (the Act).

The Tribunal ordered Volkswagen Financial Services to – 

cease the practice and/or conduct of charging consumers the “on the road”, admin and handling fees on credit agreements from 10 April 2019 and to submit written confirmation to the NCR to this effect;

calculate the total amount of charges, fees or interest levied on the “on the road”, admin and handling fees; and 

refund all those consumers charges, fees or interest levied and submit a report by independent auditors to the NCR.

“The NCR welcomes this judgment as it affirms the protection given to consumers by the National Credit Act against illegal charges and fees on credit agreements”, says Nomsa Motshegare, Chief Executive Officer of the NCR.

The NCR will continue to conduct industry-wide investigations on fees and charges on credit agreements to root out illegal charges and fees on credit agreements.

Ends


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LOAD SHEDDING AND FOOD SAFETY

South Africa is experiencing regular load shedding.   The duration and frequency of load shedding will potentially affect the safety of food in a refrigerator.  Read below for important information and guidance.

Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power is out for no more than 4 hours, the refrigerator door is kept shut AND the fridge was running at 4 °C at the time of load shedding.  Perishable foods are the most susceptible to spoilage and food safety concerns. 

Examples are: 

* Fresh meat
* Fresh poultry
* Fresh fish
* Milk
* Soft cheeses
* Possibly even leftovers, depending on how long they were in the fridge prior to load shedding.

Fridges should run at no higher than 4 °C, but we know that most consumer fridges run at higher temperatures in South Africa.  Therefore, the 4 hour time period mentioned above, may be even shorter in such cases.  It is then best to discard foods in the above list if the outage is longer than 2 hours AND where the fridge temperature is higher than 4 °C.  The only way to know whether desirable fridge temperatures have been exceeded is to keep a thermometer in the refrigerator.  Different bacteria start growing at different minimum temperatures, but for every 1 degree Celsius increase above that minimum growth temperature, bacteria in food grow (double themselves) faster.  It is therefore essential to keep the door closed to ensure that the temperature stays as low as possible during the power outage.

Frozen foods will remain frozen for about 48 hours, again if the freezer door is kept closed.  If any perishable foods start to thaw for whatever reason, they CANNOT be re-frozen and should be cooked as soon as possible. 

Consumers should never taste these foods to determine whether they are safe to possibly keep them.  Considering the cost of food, one is loathe to throw it away, however you cannot taste or smell when a food is unsafe.  When a food smells “off” it usually means spoilage and the food should not be consumed, but unsafe food may still smell and taste perfectly fine. 

If one knows the load shedding schedule, one can prepare for it as follows: 

1.  Make sure the refrigerator is running at 4 °C or as close as possible.

2.  Freeze refrigerated items that can be frozen such as milk, leftovers, fresh meat and poultry, fish etc that you may not need immediately.

3. If no freezer is available, buy smaller quantities of fresh food, cook and consume them quickly rather than buying in bulk and refrigerating those items for long periods of time.

4. Consider buying long-life products, such as sterile or UHT beverages and canned goods, all of which have a long shelf-life outside the refrigerator, while unopened.  Once open however, they too must be refrigerated. 

5 Frozen ice packs can also be packed around perishable foods in the refrigerator to keep those foods cold for as long as possible, during load shedding.

For food that is to be eaten cooked, it is always advisable to cook it thoroughly, even when there is no load shedding.

Copyright 2019 Anelich Consulting

Please visit Dr Lucia Anelich’s web page for more information on Food Safety Matters  : http://anelichconsulting.co.za

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FNB and ABSA recently announced that they will be automatically reversing unauthorised debit orders from companies identified as issuing such orders fraudulently.  They have also indicated that they will reverse service charges associated with these unauthorised debit orders.  SANCU has been warning banks for the past 7 years that the current system of debit orders is wide open to such fraud.  Consumers have long been complaining about unauthorised debit orders and the inability of banks to safeguard accounts by allowing only pre-approved debit orders to be processed.  If the banks had listened to SANCU earlier they would not have found themselves in the current mess.  An improved system is said to on the way, but its introduction has been delayed.  We shall see ...

See the following link:  https://www.enca.com/business/absa-follows-fnbs-lead-reversing-fraudulent-debit-orders

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SANCU would like to remind consumers that as from 1 March unused cellphone data can be rolled over to the following month on all networks (that probably means unused data from February will not be rolled over; only from the end of March onwards).  Vodacom previously indicated there would be a charge on a sliding scale of up to R49 to roll over data, but after a huge public outcry and criticism from ICASA it has since announced that it will no longer charge to roll over data, which is in line with the other networks.  See the following link:

https://www.businessinsider.co.za/vodacom-data-rollover-charges-dropped-r49-will-be-free-2019-2


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ABSA WARNS OF UPSURGE IN DIGITAL BANKING FRAUD CASES

Staff Writer Businesstech 2.2.2018

Absa has urged customers to always be vigilant against any attempt to dupe them into handing over their “keys to the safe” – card PIN, card CVV, card One Time PIN (OTP), online banking PIN, online banking Password – to third parties.

There is an upsurge in social engineering globally, it said. “Fraudsters use personal data from data breaches to impersonate banks with the sole purpose of tricking customers into granting them access to their money and bank accounts.”

Citing external studies, Absa said that during the first half of 2018, 4.5 billion customer data records globally were reported to have been compromised – 86% of all consumer information has been compromised through spam emails and data breaches. Studies also showed that 97% of customers struggle to differentiate between a Phishing email and a legitimate email. 

Phishing – impersonation through emails, commonly containing hyperlinks 

Vishing – impersonation through phone calls

SMShing – impersonation through text messages where the customer is requested to open the link and complete the fields

In South Africa, digital banking fraud cases increased by 64% over the past year; these impact the entire financial services industry, Absa said.

Absa head of fraud strategy, Ulrich Janse Van Rensburg, said customers should never approve transaction requests via the mobile banking application (App) if they’re not transacting or if they are not responsible for the transaction.

Absa will never request for its customers’ “keys to the safe” for any reason whatsoever, the bank said.

-----------------
Media Release

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      January 2019


If you have to borrow, borrow wisely! 

The festive season is over and reality has dawned that we are in a new year which is meant to at least bring all things new. Unfortunately, if consumers did not spend wisely during last year, this will mean that they will have to start the year on a tough note with taking out credit being the only option for some. Didi Sebothoma, Acting Manager: Education & Communication at the National Credit regulator (NCR) says there are many reasons why consumers might need to borrow at this time of the year. It may be because of reckless spending last year, loss of jobs, unplanned costs such as medical, death etc.

We have seen some consumers battling financially last year as the VAT increased and petrol increases making things expensive for consumers. However, statistics from the National Credit Regulator shows that the consumer credit health has slightly improved from 38.9% to 37.4% .This number signifies consumers / accounts that are three or more months in arrears. 

“Consumers who need to borrow money to get by should only borrow from registered credit providers”, says Sebothoma. “They should never leave their bank cards, SASSA cards, PINs and identity documents with credit providers”, he adds. It is a criminal offence for a credit provider to take and retain consumers’ instruments. Consumers should also refuse to pay any upfront payments before they are granted a loan. They should report credit providers who charge them such fees to the National Credit Regulator.

Amongst, other things, the NCR regulates interest and fees that credit providers should charge consumers when they take out credit. There are different interest rates for different credit types and most of these are calculated using the repurchase rate (repo rate). The repo rate remains unchanged at 6.75%. For mortgage agreements, the maximum interest rate credit providers can charge a consumer is 18.75% per annum. Credit facilities which include credit cards, overdrafts and petrol cards is 20.75% per annum; unsecured credit transactions which consist mainly of personal loans is 27.75% per annum; developmental credit agreements is 33.75% per annum; short-term transactions is 5 % per month on the first loan then 3% per month on subsequent loans; other credit which includes furniture and vehicle finance is 23.75% per annum; and incidental credit is 2% per month. 

Credit providers are also allowed to charge consumers an initiation fee. This is a fee charged to consumers for entering into credit agreements with credit providers. An initiation fee may never exceed 15% of the principal debt. A service fee can also be charged by the credit provider for servicing the credit agreement and it must not exceed R60 excluding VAT. 

Other fees that credit providers can charge include credit life insurance which will cover the credit agreement in case the consumer dies, gets retrenched or disabled whilst they still owe the credit provider. This fee is also capped. 

There is also a default administration charge which is a fee chargeable by credit providers if the consumer’s account is in arrears. It basically relates to costs incurred by credit providers in advising the consumer that their account is in arrears. Collection costs are costs incurred by a credit provider in attempting to collect outstanding or overdue debt from a consumer. They can also charge costs of an extended warranty agreement, delivery, installation, initial fuelling charges, connection fees, levies or charges, taxes, license or registration fees.

Sebothoma advises consumers to get a pre-agreement statement and quotation when seeking credit as these will outline the cost of credit for the proposed agreement. “Consumers should not rush to signing anything at this point until they are clear and certain”, he adds.

He concludes by advising consumers to aim at paying off their debt and building up savings over the longer term. 

ENDS

------------------------------
Media Release 



For Immediate Release                                                                                   January 2019 

National Credit Regulator issues a public warning against fake loan scams  

[JOHANNEBURG] The National Credit Regulator (NCR) has warned consumers to be wary of fake credit providers who attempt to entrap consumers in loan scams.

These scams typically target those who are in distressed financial circumstances and looking for a loan, using slogans such as “blacklisted” or “debt review clients welcome” says Jacqueline Peters, Manager: Investigations and Enforcement at the NCR. 

The increase in these types of scams comes at a time when credit approvals have decreased and consumers are finding themselves to be financially stretched.  This is the time to be more vigilant as it is in the vulnerable times that we should make wise decisions. The National Credit Act prohibits all advertisements for credit from utilising these prohibited terms and consumers should avoid engaging with any credit provider who advertises in this manner, she added. 

The fake credit providers would generally use the details of legitimate credit providers and attempt to make one believe that they are endorsed by government agencies such as the NCR, one must not be misled and can look out for the typical signs.  

Below is general advise for consumers to avoid scams:

Treat all unexpected calls, emails and sms messages with Don’t assume they’re genuine, even if the person seems to know some basic information about you, such as your name;  

Look out for the name on all e-mails, in case it is a ‘clone company’ pretending to be a real credit provider.

Do not pay any upfront fees to release your loans. The National Credit Act does not allow credit providers to request upfront payments for the release of a loan, if the ‘credit provider makes this request, do not engage further and report to the relevant authorities, such as the NCR or the SAPS;

Be aware of platforms and hidden fees included for sourcing a loan;

Don’t be pressured into acting quickly. A genuine credit provider won’t mind waiting if you want time to think and compare the costs of credit by using a quotation;

Do not engage with credit providers who do not conduct affordability assessments. Furthermore, never give false or incorrect information on a credit application about your financial affairs.  Always disclose your financial obligations and living expenses fully.

Never borrow from an unregistered credit provider.

‘If the proposal is too good to be true, it usually is’.

If a consumer is unsure or in doubt about the legitimacy of the credit provider or agreement, they should contact the NCR on (011 554 2600/2700 or visit our website at www.ncr.org.za.

Issued by: The National Credit Regulator

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The South African Bureau of Standards recently issued a national standard giving guidelines to providers for the assessment and improvement of energy services to users.  This standard, SANS 50007:2018 applies to energy suppliers across the board, including Eskom, Municipalities that distribute electricity, and also to micro-grids.  It is an identical adoption of the International Standard, ISO 50007:2017, which was developed with a very wide range of inputs from all over the world.  It provides valuable guidance on how to meet users' service needs and expectations.  It also gives criteria for service assessment as well as indicators of service performance.  It is thus a very useful governance tool for boards, councils and regulators. Consumers stand to benefit from suppliers that choose to implement this standard (it is a voluntary standard).  Consumers should therefore pose the following pertinent questions whenever discussing electricity service quality in public meetings, stakeholder consultations, and when complaining:
  • Are you aware of SANS 50007:2018 Guidelines for the assessment and improvement of energy services to users?  If not, will you get a copy?
  • If you know it, have you implemented it?  If not, why not?
---------------------------------------------------------- NEW ‘MONEY BOMB’ SCAM TARGETS SOUTH AFRICANS AT ATMS  Staff Writer16 November 2018  (BusinessTech) The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned against scams and other safety issues leading up to and during the festive season. According to the group, robberies where criminals follow a victim after a withdrawal at an ATM or from the bank, remain rife, as criminals know that at this time of year people receive their Stokvel payouts and bonuses. Bank clients are also still falling victim to fraud at ATMs where criminals interfere with them while they are carrying out a transaction. Sabric urged banking clients not to accept assistance from anyone, even if they purport to be bank staff. “Criminals are masters at social engineering and know just how to exploit human vulnerabilities to perpetuate crimes, particularly over the festive season where they tend to let their guard down.” said Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay. In a scam known as ‘the Money Bomb’, a criminal drops a roll of paper covered in genuine bank notes near the victim after they have transacted at an ATM. The criminal then approaches the victim and suggests going to a remote location to share the “money”. At the remote location, the victim is robbed of the money they withdrew, often violently. Digital platforms have also created social engineering opportunities for criminals to manipulate their victims into divulging their personal or confidential information, Pillay said. “Clients are still compromised because of phishing, vishing or the installation of malware onto a victim’s device by having them click on a link, enabling the criminal to steal sufficient personal information to access their online banking profile. Sabric urges consumers not to click on links or icons in unsolicited emails or SMSes.” Pillay said that Sabric has also seen an increase in the hacking of social media profiles, where a victim’s social media account is hijacked by hacking their account, or by creating a duplicate account using stolen personal information. The criminal then contacts the victim’s friends and, posing as the victim, fabricates a tragic story, requesting money. The victim’s contacts then unknowingly transfer money to the criminal. “We continue to stress that as a bank client, you are your money’s best protection, so take cognisance of our tips and empower yourself,” said Pillay.  -------------------------------------------------------------- National Credit Regulator Media Release For Immediate Release                                                                                                                 November 2018   Don’t let Black Friday be the reason for your financial woes! Out of the 24.59 million credit active consumers, 61.1% are in good standing. However, 38.9% or 9.6 million consumers have impaired records. This is a record on which a consumer and/or any of the accounts are either classified as three or more payments or months in arrears, have an adverse listing, have a judgment or an administration order. “If you did not budget for “Black Friday” this year, do not be tempted because buying on impulse may cause you to have a bad credit record”, says Jimmy Golele, Acting Manager: Education & Communication at the National Credit Regulator (NCR). By preparing a budget, consumers can prevent buyers’ remorse and stress of arriving home with products and items that they do not really need. “Credit needs to be paid back with interest and fees”.  “It costs more to pay by credit than to pay cash”, adds Golele. The Consumer Credit Market Report (CCMR) which is a publication issued by the NCR indicates that a large number of consumers have taken out credit facilities which largely include credit / garage cards and store cards. The NCR advises consumers to use credit wisely and only when it is necessary. Golele says that consumers need to take credit that they can afford and pay accordingly as per their credit agreements. Skipping payments will adversely affect consumers’ credit reports which will limit their future chances of accessing further credit when they really need it. Golele reminds consumers that the festive season is around the corner and if they do not spend wisely during this Black Friday, this could set them back financially in the new year and it will be difficult to catch up. “Consumers should prioritise necessities like their bond / rent, transport, groceries, school fees, insurance etc. before splurging on Black Friday”, advises Golele. “It is really not wise to fund Black Friday shopping spree by taking unnecessary debt because debt is costly and should be used for asset building”, says Golele. To help consumers avoid the urge to unnecessarily spend this Black Friday, Golele offers these helpful tips: Set a realistic budget of what you can afford to spend and stick to it; Don’t spend what you don’t have – this means do not live beyond your means and don’t buy if you haven’t budgeted; If an item is on sale and you buy it on credit, remember that interest and fees will push up the price. Therefore, cash is king! Don’t be impulsive when you shop; Have a shopping list to avoid buying unnecessary items - if you don’t need it now, chances are you may never need it. So avoid wasting your time and hard earned money; Don’t forget to get a free copy of your credit report from registered credit bureaus on the NCR’s website: ncr.org.za. “Don’t let Black Friday burn a hole in your pocket and be a reason for your financial woes next year”, concludes Golele. ENDS About The National Credit Regulator The National Credit Regulator (NCR) was established as the regulator under the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (the Act) and is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. The NCR is mandated with the registration of Credit Providers, Credit Bureaus, Debt Counsellors, Payment Distribution Agents, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Agents; and monitoring their conduct in compliance with the National Credit Act as amended. The National Credit Regulator offers education and protection to consumers of credit

20 March 2014

SABRIC 4/10.2018

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) is pleased to be releasing its inaugural digital banking crime statistics. We are all too aware that the advent of digital technology has seen the exploitation of digital platforms by criminals. In 2017, 13 438 incidents across banking apps, online banking and mobile banking cost the industry more than R250 000 000 in gross losses. While incidents from January to August 2018, already show a 64% increase, we are pleased that the increase in gross losses is just 7% when compared to the same period in 2017. When comparing January to August 2017 to the same period in 2018, mobile banking incidents showed an increase of 100%, with gross losses of R23 593 631, while online banking incidents showed an increase of 44% with gross losses of R89 368 722. For the same period, banking app incidents increased by 20%, with gross losses of R70 156 364. SIM swops saw 4040 incidents from January to August 2017, and 8254 incidents from January to August 2018, an increase of 104%. 

“Criminals are always looking for ways to exploit digital platforms to defraud victims, but the mitigation strategies deployed by Banks are very robust, so it is easier to target people, as they are the weakest link.” says Kalyani Pillay, SABRIC CEO. She goes on to say that criminals are very skilled at using social engineering to manipulate their victims into divulging their personal or confidential information. They capitalize on the fact that not all digital banking clients are digitally literate and exploit this vulnerability. Using technology, coupled with social engineering, criminals can gather sufficient information to impersonate victims, bypassing bank security protocols.

In most cases, clients are still compromised because of phishing, vishing or the installation of malware onto a victim’s device by having them click on a link, enabling the criminal to steal sufficient personal information to access their online banking profile. SABRIC urges consumers not to click on links or icons in unsolicited emails or SMSs.

Although phishing scams are not new, criminals are always finding new ways to trick consumers by taking advantage of the slickness, convenience and efficiency of digital platforms. In one such modus operandi, the criminal sends the victim an email that purports to be from a trusted organisation that the victim has legitimate dealings with. The email will display all the characteristics of customer centricity and promise to “optimize” the victims user experience or exclusively upgrade their benefits if they click on the link provided.

In another modus operandi, the criminal plays on the victim’s fear, and sends them an email that appears to be from their Bank, stating that a fraudulent transaction has been made. The victim is then given the opportunity to report the “fraud” by clicking on a link, and in their state of panic, does so. When clicking on links in these phishing emails, the victim is diverted to a fraudulent website under the control of the criminal, and any information entered on this page, such as a banking profile username or password is sent to the criminal. Once they have viewed your profile, and find that there is money to be accessed, they will commit fraud on your internet banking account.

It is critical that consumers are aware that they are their money’s best protection on all digital platforms. “We also cannot stress the importance of not sharing confidential information with anyone or clicking on links in unsolicited emails.” says Pillay.

SABRIC is working closely with the SAPS and Mobile Network Operators to address this scourge.

SABRIC urges bank clients to take note of the following tips to protect themselves:

Phishing, Vishing & SMishing 

Do not click on links or icons in unsolicited emails. 

Never reply to these emails. Delete them immediately.

Do not believe the content of unsolicited emails blindly. If you are concerned about what is being alleged in the email, use your own contact details to contact the sender and confirm. 

Always type in the URL (uniform resource locator) or domain name for your bank in the address bar of your internet browser if you need to access your bank’s website. 

Check that you are on your banks genuine website before inputting any personal information. 

Make sure that you are not on a spoof site by clicking on the security icon on your browser tool bar to see that the URL begins with https rather than http. 

Check for a closed green padlock next to the URL of the website. A green padlock shows that your connection with the website is secured and encrypted. 

If you think that you might have been compromised, contact your bank immediately. 

Create complicated passwords that are not easy to decipher and change them often. 

Banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone. 

If you receive a phone call requesting confidential or personal information, do not respond and end the call. 

If you receive an OTP on your phone without having transacted yourself, it was likely prompted by a fraudster using your personal information. Do not provide the OTP telephonically to anybody. Contact your bank immediately to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised. 

If you lose mobile connectivity under circumstances where you are usually connected, check whether you may have been the victim of a SIM swop. 

SIM Swops 

If reception on your cell phone is lost, immediately check what the problem could be, as you could have been a victim of an illegal SIM swop on your number. If confirmed, notify your bank immediately. 

Inform your Bank should your cell phone number changes so that your cell phone notification contact number is updated on its systems. 

Register for your Bank’s cell phone notification service and receive electronic messages relating to activities or transactions on your accounts as and when they occur.

Regularly verify whether the details received from cell phone notifications are correct and according to the recent activity on your account. Should any detail appear suspicious immediately contact your Bank and report all log-on notification that are unknown to you. 

Memorise your PIN and passwords, never write them down or share them, not even with a bank official. 

Make sure your PIN and passwords cannot be seen when you enter them. 

If you think your PIN and/or password has been compromised, change it immediately either online or at your nearest branch. 

Choose an unusual PIN and password that are hard to guess and change them often. 

Change of Bank Details Scam
  • Maintain a good relationship with existing suppliers and know your contacts whom you should be able to liaise with.
  • Ensure that you confirm any change of banking details with someone you usually deal with at the organisation before making any changes to beneficiary accounts. When calling the organisation to confirm the changes to banking details, use a number from the telephone directory and not the number on the letterhead or email as you will most likely be calling the fraudster.
  • If talking to this ‘supplier’ on the telephone beforehand, they may ask about when you last sent payments to them, looking to see if you are still an active client. Again, ask to speak to contacts that you recognise and if necessary ask your contact to call you back.
  • Question whether well-known companies would change their banking details without notifying people through more formal channels.
  • Beware of supposed confirmatory emails from almost identical email addresses, such as .com instead of .co.za, or addresses that differ from the genuine one by perhaps one letter that can be easily missed.
  • Instruct staff responsible for paying invoices to scrutinise invoices for irregularities and escalating suspicions to a known contact.
  • It is essential to make sure that you are certain of the identity of the person your business is dealing with at all times. Consider setting up designated ‘Single Points of Contact’ with companies to which you make regular payments.
  • Ensure that your company’s private information is not disclosed to third parties who are not entitled to receive it, or third parties whose identities cannot be rightfully verified.
  • Rather shred your business and suppliers’ invoices or any communication material that may contain letterheads, than to discard in rubbish bins.
  • Consider reviewing previous requests to change account details to confirm whether they were genuine or not.
  • To avoid your customers acting on an instruction allegedly from you, alert them to this type of fraud.
Email Hacking
  • Make sure your PC has the most up-to-date OS updates and antivirus/malware software.
  • Depending on the extent to which your account was abused, you may have to contact all email recipients who were spammed by your hacked mailbox to advise them that these communications were not legitimate.
  • Set up several email addresses. Use your original email address for personal or business communication as you’d normally do and use an alternative email address to communicate with your service provider, since many now ask for a different address for added protection. Then, use yet another email address for registering for websites, newsletters, online shopping and other services. In this way, the risk of a possible compromise is spread.
  • Use different and strong passwords for each account - one that is at least six characters long, and is a combination of letters, numbers and capitals/lowercase.
  • On a secure PC, log into your email and then check if any of the settings have been changed. This could indicate that your email account has been hacked, so ensure that if any of the settings have been altered, that you delete these immediately.
  • Once you have changed the settings, create a new password, and add your secondary email account as your alternative address.
  • Never list your main email address publicly anywhere online - in forums, in online advertisements, on blogs, social media or any place where it can be harvested by spammers. Use a separate email address for the internet which is not linked to your personal or business email account.
  • Don’t use public computers to check email; there’s virtually no way to know if they have been accidentally infected with malware or have had keylogging spyware installed intentionally.
[ENDS]


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TECH CENTRAL 4.10.2018

SABRIC WARNS OF SURGE IN SIM-SWAP FRAUD

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) on Thursday warned of a surge in Sim-swap fraud in the country.

The organisation has released its inaugural digital banking crime statistics, which show that in 2017, 13 438 incidents occurred across banking apps, online banking and mobile banking, costing the industry more than R250-million in gross losses.

Sim-swap fraud saw 4 040 incidents from January to August 2017, and 8 254 incidents from January to August 2018, an increase of 104%, it said.

When comparing January to August 2017 to the same period in 2018, mobile banking incidents showed an increase of 100%

But digital fraud is increasing across the board, Sabric warned.

Incidents from January to August 2018 already showed a 64% increase, though the growth in total gross losses was 7% compared to the same period in 2017.

“When comparing January to August 2017 to the same period in 2018, mobile banking incidents showed an increase of 100%, with gross losses of R23.6-million, while online banking incidents showed an increase of 44%, with gross losses of R89.4-million,” it said. “For the same period, banking app incidents increased by 20%, with gross losses of R70.2-million.”

Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay said criminals have become adept at using social engineering to manipulate victims into divulging their personal or confidential information. They capitalise on the fact that not all digital banking clients are digitally literate and exploit this vulnerability.

“Using technology, coupled with social engineering, criminals can gather sufficient information to impersonate victims, bypassing bank security protocols,” Pillay said.

Scams

In most cases, clients are still compromised because of “phishing”, “vishing” or the installation of malware onto a victim’s device by having them click on a link, enabling the criminal to steal enough personal information to access their online banking profile.

“Although phishing scams are not new, criminals are always finding new ways to trick consumers by taking advantage of the slickness, convenience and efficiency of digital platforms. In one such modus operandi, the criminal sends the victim an e-mail that purports to be from a trusted organisation that the victim has legitimate dealings with,” she said. “The e-mail will display all the characteristics of customer centricity and promise to ‘optimise’ the victims user experience or exclusively upgrade their benefits if they click on the link provided.”

Should any detail appear suspicious, immediately contact your bank and report all logon notifications that are unknown to you

Another method criminals use is playing on a victim’s fear, sending them an e-mail that appears to be from their bank, stating that a fraudulent transaction has take place. “When clicking on links in these phishing e-mails, the victim is diverted to a fraudulent website under the control of the criminal, and any information entered on this page, such as a banking profile username or password, is sent to the criminal.”

To avoid falling victim to Sim-swap fraud specifically, Sabric recommends that if a customer loses cellphone signal, they should immediately check what the problem could be as they could have been a victim of an illegal Sim swap. “If confirmed, notify your bank immediately.”

Consumers should also inform their bank if their cellphone number changes so that they continue to receive notifications about possible fraudulent activity.

“Should any detail appear suspicious, immediately contact your bank and report all logon notifications that are unknown to you.”  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

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Extract from My Broadband 1.9.2018

WE SENT AN EMAIL TO CUSTOMER SUPPORT AT THE SA POST OFFICE EVERY DAY FOR TWO WEEKS – THE RESULT

MyBroadband recently ran a series of tests which showed that the SA Post Office was unable to deliver a letter on time.

Multiple letters were sent as part of the test, with many not arriving after weeks of waiting.

While many readers were not surprised by the result, a few questioned the point of the test.

They stated that sending letters was a waste of time, and no individual did this any more.

The point of the test, however, was to highlight the utter incompetence of the SA Post Office – as delivering a letter is the foundation of what the state-owned entity does.

Email test

To see if this lack of service extended to other aspects of the Post Office’s business, we tested the organisation’s customer support system.

We emailed the customer.services@postoffice.co.za address – listed on the SA Post Office website’s Contact Us section – asking for assistance with a query we had, for the test.

We sent an email every morning for two weeks, starting on 17 August 2018, to the same email address with the same request. Emails were also sent on Saturday and Sundays.

The result was definitive – not a single reply.

There was no acknowledgement of the query, and no contact from the Post Office in any form following the multiple emails.
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SANCU NEWS  :

At a meeting of the SABS Legal Metrology–Sale of Goods committee on 5 July, SANCU requested a change in the product labelling standard which currently permits the quantity of goods to be indicated anywhere except on the base of the product.  Suppliers often indicate the quantity inconspicuously, especially when reducing quantities, in order to deceive consumers. The international (OIML) recommendation requires the quantity to be stated on the display panel, which is the panel displayed to the consumer and which contains the brand name and description.  SANCU would like South Africa to align with the international recommendation.

SANCU also urged the adoption locally of indicating the unit price (e.g. price per kg or per L), in addition to the selling price, on supermarket shelf labels and in advertising.  This is now a legal requirement in, for example, the EU, Australia and in some Canadian and US states.  It is aimed at countering the practice of product downsizing and underfilling by allowing the consumer to make informed purchase decisions more easily.  An International Standard on the practice is expected to be issued by ISO soon.

SANCU further raised the issue of underfilling containers where the contents are not readily visible.  This is particularly prevalent with cereal boxes which often contain a smaller internal package which itself is only partially filled.  This practice is not only deceptive, but is wasteful of packaging material.  SANCU undertook to do further research and present concrete results to industry stakeholders.

How is SANCU doing?  Do you agree with our input at this meeting? SANCU relies on feedback from members and consumers in general to guide the input we make in such forums.  If you have any comments on the above, please drop us a line at sancu@sabs.co.za

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Media Release from the National Credit Regulator 

For immediate release June 2018                                                                                                                                                                                      
NCR and SAPS Raid the Eastern Cape 

On Friday, 01 June 2018, the National Credit Regulator (NCR) joined forces with the South African Police Service (SAPS) in an operation aimed at curbing illegal retention of consumer instruments including identity books, bank cards and SASSA cards, to enforce credit agreements.

The operation was conducted at different entities that conduct businesses in Grahamstown, Somerset East, Fort Beaufort and Humansdorp. During the operation, six hundred and eighty six (686) SASSA and bank cards as well as twelve (12) identity books were seized and four (4) criminal cases were opened. 

The focus of this kind of operation is primarily to identify credit providers who are unlawfully retaining pension cards, bank cards, identity documents and personal identity numbers (PIN) of their clients as surety. “Retaining these cards is a contravention of the National Credit Act (NCA) and it is a criminal offence,” said Jacqueline Peters Manager of the Investigations and Enforcements Department at the National Credit Regulator. 

She stated that this operation is part of the NCR’s ongoing strategy to root out predatory lending practices and to ensure that all credit providers, no matter where they conduct business, comply with the provisions of the NCA. “The exploitation of vulnerable and unsuspecting consumers by credit providers will not be tolerated,” added Peters.

“Consumers are cautioned to avoid credit providers who require them to hand over their identity books or cards as it is a criminal offence and it is usually coupled with reckless lending and overcharging,” concluded Peters.

Ends

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SANCU WARNS CONSUMERS

Beware: Your “alcohol free” beer may not totally alcohol free!
The South African National Consumer Union urges consumers who : 
1. avoid alcohol for religious reasons,
2. are rehabilitated alcoholics,
3. are on medication who should consult their doctor, pharmacist or the leaflet that comes with the medicine to determine allowable limits 

to check the labels on the front and back of the can/bottle, as beer labelled "alcohol free" is permitted to contain up to 0,5% alcohol, while some brands claiming 0% alcohol in fact contains 0,03% alcohol. The alcohol content of these beers is low enough so as not to cause inebriation, but may not be low enough for those consumers falling into the above categories.
  • Media Release 
    
                                               
    
    For Immediate Release  05 April 2018
    
    Consumer credit health improves 
    
    Today, the National Credit Regulator (NCR) released the Consumer Credit Market Report (CCMR) and the Credit Bureau Monitor (CBM), which are based on data submitted to the NCR by registered credit providers and credit bureaus respectively. The latest edition of the reports covers credit market information up to December 2017. The total value of new credit granted increased by 9.76% quarter-on-quarter from R123.64 billion to R135.71 billion. The number of applications for credit increased by 6.18% quarter-on-quarter from 9.87 million in September 2017 to 10.48 million in December 2017.
    
    The following were some of the most significant trends observed in terms of credit granted for the quarter ended December 2017:
  • The value of new mortgages granted increased by R3.79 billion (10.10%) quarter-on-quarter but increased by R3.99 billion (10.68%) year-on-year.
  • Secured credit which is dominated by vehicle finance, increased by R4.12 billion (9.74%) quarter-on-quarter and by R4.18 billion (9. 91%) year-on-year.
  • Credit facilities increased by R1.38 million (8.84%) quarter-on-quarter and by R2.58 billion (17.25%) year-on year.
  • Unsecured credit decreased by R2.77 billion (12.44%) quarter-on-quarter, but increased by R2.01 billion (8.73%) year-on-year.
The total outstanding consumer credit balances (or gross debtors book) as at December 2017 was R1.76 trillion, representing an increase of 1.53% quarter-on-quarter and 3.77% year-on-year. The trends for outstanding balances for the quarter ended December 2017 were as follows:
  • Mortgage debtors book increased by R8.72 billion (0.97%) for the quarter ended December 2017 and by R28.82 billion (3.29%) year-on-year.
  • Secured credit debtors book increased by R7.89 billion (1.98%) for the quarter ended December 2017 and by R21.60 billion (5.61%) year-on-year.
  • Credit facilities debtors book increased by R2.96 billion (1.32%) for the quarter ended December 2017 and by R5.67 billion (2.56%) year-on-year.
  • Unsecured credit debtors book increased by R3.98 billion (2.40%) for the quarter ended December 2017 and by R5.16 billion (3.13%) year-on-year.
    
    Credit bureaus held records for 25.31 million credit-active consumers, which showed an increase of 0.91% when compared to the 25.08 million in the previous quarter. Consumers classified in good standing increased by 406,220 to 15.62 million consumers. This amounts to 60.74% of the total number of credit-active consumers, an increase of 1.06% quarter-on-quarter and 1.84% year-on-year. The number of credit active accounts increased from 78.43 million to 79.49 million in the quarter ended December 2017. The number of impaired accounts has decreased from 20.19 million (25.74%) to 19.84 million (24.96%) when compared to September 2017, a decrease of 345,000 quarter-on-quarter and 167,000 year-on-year.
    
    The number of enquiries made on consumer credit records was 530.11 million, this was an increase of 38.67% quarter-on-quarter but an increase of 18.74% year-on-year. Consumer initiated enquiries accounted for 23.98 million of all enquiries, an increase of 9.38% quarter-on-quarter and 22.01% year-on-year. The number of credit reports issued to consumers increased from 125,555 in the previous quarter to 152,690. A total 105,083 (68.82%) credit reports were issued without charge, and the remaining 47,607 (31.18%) were issued with charge. There were 32,509 disputes lodged on information held on consumer credit records for the quarter ended December 2017, an increase of 2.49% quarter-on-quarter but a decrease of 8.87% year-on-year.
    
    Nomsa Motshegare, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NCR has noted the seasonal uptick in credit extension.  Motshegare is advising consumers to live within their means and only take credit when there is an absolute need. She further stressed the fact that consumers should only take credit from registered credit providers. Consumers must disclose all their financial obligations to credit providers when they apply for credit so that credit providers are able to conduct a proper affordability assessment.
Comparisons in this release- ‘quarter-on-quarter’ refers to a comparison between the September 2017 and December 2017 quarters, and ‘year-on-year’ refers to a comparison between the December 2016 and December 2017 quarters.
Ends


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MTN PRICE HIKE

SANCU wishes to inform those members who are on MTN's prepaid voice plans, and who might have missed the announcement, that they have already been paying considerably more for calls since a change that took place on 23 March.  "Pay per second" customers are now paying 99c per minute, up from 79c, while "Talk Free" customers are now paying R1,20 per minute, up from 79c per minute.  Other networks, including Vodacom, Cell-C and Telkom Mobile, still charge 79c per minute or lower on similar plans -- at least for now.

It is a relatively simple matter to change to a new network nowadays and to retain your number (simply enquire at the new provider), but members are warned that any prepaid credit at the old network will be forfeited at the time of changeover.
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PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE CONSUMER GOODS AND SERVICES OMBUDSMAN

19 MARCH 2018

ATTENTION: CGSO PARTICIPANTS AND OTHER RETAILERS 

PRICE DISPLAYS AND NEW VAT INCREASE ADJUSTMENTS 

The announcement by National Treasury that VAT will increase to 15% as from the 1st April 2018 has left many retailers with a headache of how they will implement the increase, comply with the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act and avoid the losses that might occur as a result of consumers demanding to pay lower prices if the prices displayed or on tags are not adjusted in time.

The announcement was made on the 21st February 2018, giving retailers just under 6 weeks to apply the adjustment to millions of items as well as change the relevant software applications. The CGSO has received an enquiry regarding this dilemma where retailers will not be ready by the 1st April to have changed all the labels on the items they sell to reflect the pricing with the 15% VAT.

In view of the above, our office wishes to remind our participants of the requirements of the CPA on price displaying and offer some guidance on how the transition can be handled.

The display of prices is regulated by section 23 of the CPA. The section provides that

1) Retailers of goods or services are prohibited from displaying any goods for sale without displaying a price in relation to those goods. The exception is where:

  i.the supplier has given the consumer an estimate and the consumer has waived his or her right to such an estimate;
  ii.Section 43 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act applies; OR
  iii. The goods are displayed predominantly as a form of advertisement or in an area that the public does not ordinarily have access to.

2) A price shall be deemed to be adequately displayed if: 
   i.It is annexed or affixed to the goods, or written, printed, stamped or otherwise applied to the goods or near the goods; or
   ii. It is published in a current catalogue, brochure, circular or similar form of publication that is available to the consumer or to the public.

Consumers have the right to pay the displayed price or the lower price if two prices are displayed. To avoid losses and disputes retailers must display the correct prices at all times. The provisions of section 23(7) and 23(10) of the CPA provide for exceptions and the steps that a retailor is required to take in case of errors:

23(6) Subject to subsections (7) to (10), a supplier must not require a consumer to pay a price for any goods or services— 

(a) higher than the displayed price for those goods or services; or 

(b) if more than one price is concurrently displayed, higher than the lower or lowest of the prices so displayed. 

23(7) Subsection (6) does not apply in respect of the price of any goods or services if the price of those goods or services is determined by or in terms of any public regulation. 

(8) If a price that was once displayed has been fully covered and obscured by a second displayed price, that second price must be regarded as the displayed price. 

(9) If a price as displayed contains an inadvertent and obvious error, the supplier is not bound by it after— 

(a) correcting the error in the displayed price; and 

(b) taking reasonable steps in the circumstances to inform consumers to whom the erroneous price may have been displayed of the error and the correct price. 

(10) A supplier is not bound by a price displayed in relationship to any goods or services if an unauthorized person has altered, defaced, covered, removed or obscured the price displayed or authorized by the supplier. 

It is clear that the announcement of the VAT increase as well as its effective date caught many unawares and many will not have sufficient time to change the pricing on thousands of items and price tags within their shops. Some retailers have already sent communication to consumers that statements will be late where the transactions relate to contracts.

While the price increase is due to public regulation, it is still good business practice for retailers to ensure that the correct prices are displayed. In view of the above the CGSO wishes to offer the following suggestions to our participants and other retailers:

1) Consumers must be informed through various platforms and channels that the new 15% VAT charge will apply as from the 1st April 2018;

2) Where there will be delays in issuing statements due to software adjustments this must be communicated to consumers as well;

3) In cases where prices displayed on tags or other platforms will still be reflecting the 14% VAT charge by the 1st of April 2018, it would be reasonable for retailers to display prominently and in strategic arrears, including at till points that all prices in the shops, irrespective of the prices displayed on the tag, are subject to the new 15% VAT rate.

4) The correction to the price on the tag could also be done manually at the till to comply with section 23(6) which requires the physical correction of the price as well as communicating to the consumer the corrected price;

5) Staff members must be trained to assist consumers to determine the correct price and confirm the acceptance of the new price before processing and concluding the sale;

6) Consumers must be advised of the channels through which they can lodge disputes regarding price displays.

ISSUED BY THE ACTING OMBUDSMAN

MAGAUTA MPHAHLELE



----------------------------------
20 March 2018

 
NETWORK DIALING CODES TO CHANGE


The old dialling codes to access voicemail will fall away on 24 March and will be replaced by a standard number across all networks: 132.  The South African Nation Consumer Union would like to remind all consumers that should they not be able to access their voicemail after that date they should try dialling this new number.  Most cellphones have a shortcut way of accessing voicemail, for example by pressing and holding "1."  When the user does this, the phone dials out a preset number, say 100 or 111, to access the voicemail service.  This preset number used to be different for different networks.  A regulation issued in 2016 standardised a number of service numbers across all networks, but the old numbers were permitted to remain in use for a period of two years.  That period expires on 24 March.
 
It is a simple process to update the preset number on a cellphone, but this process is not the same on all phones.  Consumers who find they can no longer access their voicemail by the usual means, should contact the customer care number of their network.  This number has also been standardised across all networks to 135.  There they should be able to obtain assistance on how to set their phone to access the new voicemail number.  Alternatively, their nearest cellphone shop should be able to do this for them.  In the meantime they can continue to access their voicemail by making a call to the new number: 132.

The standardised numbers now in use across all networks are as follows:

Voicemail retrieval: 132

Voicemail deposit: 134

Customer care/service: 135

Prepaid recharge and balance enquiry: 136

Account enquiries: 137

 

 Continue reading 20 March 2014