Tips For Consumers

Building or renovating your home
The bank’s assessor cannot be relied upon to advise you of any problems related to the quality of the building work done.

Be aware when using an ATM
Make yourself aware of the numerous ways in which ATM thieves will try to obtain your card and PIN while you are at an ATM.
Beware when selling your goods privately (Junk mail fraud)
Never accept a deposit slip as proof that the selling price was deposited into your account.

Internet transfers and teller deposits
The banks systems only use the account number for the transfer. It does not cross verify the account number with the payee’s name or any other information.

Cheque scams
Know the difference between a deposited cheque that has been cleared immediately for withdrawal and special clearance on a cheque.

Mortgage bonds
Know the difference between House owner’s cover – which is insurance against damage to the property and Homeowner’s life cover – which is insurance against death or disability etc. They can look very similar on the bond account statement.

Credit cards
Do not count on your signature protecting you from credit card fraud. Treat your credit card as cash. Check your statements regularly for fraudulent transactions. Beware when purchasing a bank repossessed or auctioned property. Be aware that one may encounter difficulties in having occupants of the property evicted. You may find yourself having to pay a bond on a property you cannot take possession of.

Financial difficulties
If you are in financial difficulties and cannot make payments on your loans – discuss it with your bank as soon as possible. Missed payments affect your credit record, cause an increase in the interest rate you are charged and causes the debt to escalate very quickly.

Take the time to read any contract properly before you sign it. Once you have signed a contract it is presumed that you read the contents and agreed to it. It is highly unlikely that you will be released from any conditions even if they are onerous.

Surety contracts
Know the difference between an unlimited and limited surety contract. An unlimited surety holds you liable for all present and future debts of the principle debtor irrespective of time, amount or nature of the debt. A limited surety only holds you liable for a specific debt, time or amount.

Are the returns guaranteed or are they only shown as “illustrated returns” which are not guaranteed?

Debit orders
A debit order means you grant permission to a third party to take money out of your account – usually on a monthly basis. A stop order is an instruction to the bank to pay a certain amount to a third party – usually on a monthly basis. Since you granted the permission to a third party to debit your account you must first contact them to cancel the order. If the third party does not comply you can approach your bank.

Used with permission from National Consumer Forum – Consumer Fair