How to spot, tackle an unauthorised debit order
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How to spot, tackle an unauthorised debit order

With many consumers agreeing to deals over the phone, the recording of that call serves as the proof or “mandate” should the consumer dispute a debit order on their account.

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Listen to today's Consumerwatch topic below, or read the details under the podcast.


The ugly reality is that lists of our names and bank account details are being traded on the black market, and those two details are all that’s needed for a debit order to be processed on your account.

If a consumer disputes a debit order, the third party company which processed it, or the consumer themselves has the right to demand that call mandate.

That’s what happened in the case of Kaylee Booysen of Hilton, who discovered a R129,99 debit - let’s call it R130 - on her bank statement this month, and then another one last September, which she hadn't noticed at the time.

Her enquiries led her to the facilitating company, Sage and then to the recipient of her money - D-votion, a company based in Umhlanga.

She’d never heard of the company and was pretty sure she hadn’t agreed to pay them R130 for anything. So she insisted that they show her proof of her agreeing to whatever they were selling.

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It took some persistence on her part, but finally the company sent her an email with a call recording attached. And that’s how she came to hear a stranger, with a voice and accent totally different from hers merrily giving out her bank account details.

“I felt rage!  How could they do that?” she said. “They just took my bank account details and used them to debit my account - twice!"

D-votion's IT manager, Khabir Sha, apologised to Booysen, saying: “I acknowledge and understand there is an issue with your debit. After your initial debit in September 2017, we had found out that the sale was incorrect and there are concerns with the Agent/QA (which is still in investigation) that handled the sale. Thereafter, we removed your details from further debits. This month’s debit is purely a mistake and unintentional. For some reason when I ran reports for the new year, your details remained. This I am still looking into.”

Kaylee was promised a refund of the September debit but, worryingly, that hasn’t happened yet. Her bank reversed the January debit - for a fee of about R40.

In that faked telesales call, the agent describes the company as an Umhlanga-based charity organisation “where we help poor people by giving them food parcels..and do feeding schemes. We normally visit schools, old age homes and churches.”

And “Kaylee” was asked to “donate” R130 a month in exchange for discount vouchers for various clothing stores.

Responding, Sha told Consumerwatch that for the past 10 years D-Votion has “done" more than 7500 feeding schemes, and helped Feed the Needy and Sizwe Imvubu Ministries among others.

Agents processing fake sales 

 Last May, the company expanded its operations and its call centre and hired a lot of new agents.

In July or August of last year, he said, they got a tip-off that staff were putting through fraudulent sales, an investigation followed and they found out that many of their new agents were part of a "consortium” that processes information of individuals to gain commission, the consortium moving from centre to centre carrying all information bought from illegal data suppliers that contain individuals personal details, including banking details.

So from a staff of 50 they are left with just 10 agents.

In this case Kaylee Boosen was debited in September, "we found out that the sale was not as per required standards and stopped debiting the client”.

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It was a mistake that she was debited again in January, he said, and undertook to query the refund with the company’s accounts department.

Clearly that response gives rise to many questions, which I will pursue for a follow-up show on this issue.

Unauthorised debit orders are a huge problem - and most of the companies found to be responsible are based here in Durban.

It’s why you really should be taking a long hard look at your bank statement every month.

Then report any debits you didn’t authorise to your bank and the Payments Associaton of SA. (email - [email protected])

Pasa’s rules require banks to reverse a debit order if a customer disputes it within 40 days.

Pasa is currently piloting a new system called DebiCheck, which requires consumers to authenticate a new debit order before it is processed for the first time - via SMS - as a way of protecting them from rogue debit orders.

So if a bank receives an instruction to debit its customer’s account, and the DebiCheck debit order information cannot be found on its own system, or doesn’t match, that debit order won’t be processed. A fake telesales call recording won’t cut it.

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