Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

I often envy the snake queues to the ATM on paydays. I still wish to know what attracts people to the ATM instead of paying by card at the Pick n Pay till and do a withdrawal there which is much cheaper than withdrawing the money at the ATM.

I also haven’t been to my bank branch in more than 3 years. I do most of my banking on the internet and my cellphone which much cheaper both in costs and in time wasted. Thieves also have less cash to take from you when you’re not carrying it.

I do not even own a wallet. I only have a card holder which holds all my cards. Style is not my thing anyway, so you can keep your Busby wallet if you want. Trust me, your grand children will look at you the same way you looked at your grandparent when she kept the money on the breasts or under the mattress. In fact, why not ask your boss to pay you in cash so you can have a fat Busby?

But all this convenience comes with its own dangers. Clearly some criminals now know that there’s a lot of electronic bankers already. As such current and future electronic bankers should take reasonable measures to protect themselves.

The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 (I’m not sure if it’s been amended since then) defined an Electronic Signature as “data attached to, incorporated in, or logically associated with other data and which is intended by the user to serve as a signature.” This would partly explain why when you do electronic transactions most call centre agents would ask you for your;

  • ID number or date of birth,
  • physical or postal address and,
  • landline telephone or cellphone number and
  • email address.

This procedure is mostly applied in banking, medical aid and cellphone contracts, at least in my experience.

The most urgent question to worry about is whether have you not already given all or part of this information to untrustworthy persons on the internet, particularly on Facebook.

I currently have 830 friends on facebook (07 Dec 2009).  Call me paranoid, but I do not trust all of them that is why my contact numbers and physical address are not visible there.  I carefully use the word ‘visible’ because those details are there on my Facebook profile, but Facebook have privacy controls that lets me choose who can see what hence making some details invisible to others.

However, if you dig deep enough on my profile it is possible to get my cellphone number. This is because I did put it on my status a few months ago when I was asking Facebook friends to send me SMS. I give that piece of information to illustrate the point for those who do not yet use the electronic channels. Thieves can either dig as far back as your first time registration on Facebook or just keep useful information from your profile until they have an opportunity to use it.

Stop breathing a sigh of relief if you’re a technophobe. Allow me to illustrate the point further for Technophobes (fear the use of technology). If you are a young female who recently moved to a flat somewhere. Do a house warming where friends are invited using Facebook (giving the physical address for directions). You load photos later. You buy a car and load photos. One afternoon you whine on Facebook about the traffic on the way to your place. Thieves already know you stay alone because you whine about being bored on weekends on Facebook. They then wait at the gate of your complex to steal your car.

I am not being alarmist. I just felt is necessary to caution good friends to protect themselves while taking advantage of the good uses of technology. Now don’t be paranoid and delete me if I’m your Facebook friend. Just ask me how much safe or unsafe is your Facebook profile and I’ll charge you a little fee for the assessment and recommendations.

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