Sunday, 12 October 2014

Delayed refunds anger victims of ATM theft.Drive Hot News


Statistics on exactly how much banks lose and reported cases of ATM theft are hard to come by as banks are reluctant to release such information for fear of losing clients. 

Dar/Arusha. Victims of ATM theft and other forms of cybercrime have accused commercial banks of dragging their feet when it comes to investigations and refunding the stolen money. At a time cyber theft is taking a toll on both banks and their clients, the victims say they have to endure months of going back and forth to press for refunds.
Many have given up. Others have lost hope of recovering their money and yet others accuse banks of not being friendly to clients demanding compensation after fraud. Some clients have even filed cases in the courts in a desperate attempt to get back their hard-earned money.
The Citizen on Sunday has established that many victims of fraud have spent months in bank corridors pursuing refunds with no success.
A CRDB account holder in Arusha reportedly lost Sh300,000 in ATM theft in June and immediately notified the bank. The bank’s officials were very co-operative and assured him he would get a refund in 45 days after the bank established the circumstances of the theft. “Investigations are normally carried out by a team based at our headquarters in Dar es Salaam,” an official told the client. “Bear with us for the time being.”
It took nearly four months to get feedback that investigations had been completed and even longer to get a refund. Another bank customer gave up hope of ever getting back his stolen money after a city bank put him on hold for months with all manner of excuses.
Last month, Mr Barnabas Abdallah lost more than Sh27m through ATM skimming. It has been more than a month but he has not received an assurance from the bank that he will get back his cash. “The delay has completely disrupted my plans for that money,” Mr Abdallah complains. “I have nothing to do with bank’s security systems and it’s not my fault.”
The credit lending policy approved by the Bank of Tanzania says that once a customer has deposited his money in a bank, he or she is supposed to find that cash in his account whenever he wishes to withdraw his money or check his balance.
A senior employee of a city bank told this paper last week: “Any loss of money while in the bank’s hands has nothing to do with the customer. There should be no excuse from a bank when he wants to withdraw his money.”
Statistics on exactly how much banks lose and reported cases of ATM theft are hard to come by as banks are reluctant to release such information for fear of losing clients.
A few years ago, an Arusha-based consultant lost $1,000 from his forex account. He got his money back months later, and only after he went to court. “I closed my account there and moved to another bank,” he said on condition of anonymity.
The deputy minister for Home Affairs, Mr Pereira Silima, admits there are challenges in tackling the rise in ATM theft and other forms of cybercrime and attributes this partly to low capacity in law enforcing agencies. At a conference dubbed “Cyber Defence East Africa 2014” many police officers appeared ignorant of crimes associated with information technology.
There are reportedly more than 300 cybercrime cases under investigation by police in Tanzania but the exercise is slow because they and other agencies are not conversant with such crimes and are ill-equipped to handle them. Mr Silima quoted a recently-published report that indicates that more than 800 million records were lost globally last year through such attacks