Beware of ATMs in Joburg airport

Jul 23rd, 2007, 05:33 PM
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Beware of ATMs in Joburg airport

Sorry, my last message didn't go through. I will try again. About 3 weeks ago, my father and I were traveling through Joburg on our way to a safari in Botwswana, etc. Because we were staying overnight in South Africa, he decided to get some Rand at the airport. He used an ATM right in the terminal. I am not sure which bank's machine it was and haven't had the opportunity to get the details as he is still in Botswana for another month. I did get a call from my brother who is in the States and is working to get my dad's card cancelled and replaced. The story is that somehow his card information was stolen at this ATM. He has a $1000 ATM limit per day and that was being hit every day for a week or so until it completely drained his account and the bank started calling with insufficient funds notices. The charges came through from clothing stores and other retailers in Joburg. We know the bank ATM was the source of the problem because he did not use his card anywhere else while in South Africa. I apologize for not having more details, but I thought it was useful to share this warning before anyone else gets burned.
mossway1 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:16 PM
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Traveller's cheques are always a good idea! You can encash ZAR on arrival at JNB....

HariS is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:34 PM
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Wow. I'd be curious to know if it was in the terminal or concourse (past security).
hills27 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 09:30 PM
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Did your Dad actually lose all of that money? Is not his liability actually limited to something like the first $50 only?
We have used ATMs for many years all over the world with no problems. Of course there is always that remote unlikely possibility that something will happen like this story. It is not a perfect world. But if it does happen my liability for the fraud is only $50 and even that may be waived.
As for traveller's checks, we have not used them for at least 10 years. Many many places do not take them because of counterfeiting.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 04:41 AM
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I do not believe that my father will ultimately be out the money for the unauthorized charges. As it is fraud, the bank is ultimately liable. I agree that traveler's checks are rarely used or accepted these days. My brother-in-law avoided the ATM problem at Joburg airport by exchanging dollars for Rand at a change bureau at the airport. There was a fee, but it saved him from the problem my father encountered. I agree with you about ATMs usually being the best, safest way to get foreign currency. In the future I will only use ATMs located at a bank branch, where they are least likely to be tampered with.
mossway1 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 05:03 AM
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No doubt ATM scams can happen anywhere in the world and it pays to be aware. I believe Tom is correct that U.S. law limits ATM fraud losses to $50 if reported immediately.

Friends of mine just returned from S.Africa and Botswana and relayed this suspicious incident:

I attempted to withdraw 5,000 rand from an ATM in Cape Town and at an ATM and there was this young man behind us who attempted to "help" us as the ATM would not allow me to withdraw this amount. I pressed cancel and took my card and off we went. But the young man called us back, and said, I had to put my card again because the transaction wouldn't close until I did that. I did what he said, and my card eventually came out.We went to the next ATM, and I also tried to get 5,000 Rand, but it also refused, the only amount I could get were 2,000 Rand. So I took those, and we started thinking about this young man. Why did I have to put in my card again? We got quite unsure and went into a bank and asked the lady there about that.
She told us, that there is a lot of crime and one has to be cautious and she advised us to close the card.
GreenDrake is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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How bad are the exchange rates at the change bureaus at JNB? I will have to go to one anyways to get some pula so should I just get rand there as well or use an ATM for rand?

wildcatzoo is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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I believe that US law limits credit card fraud liability to $50 (as long as you properly report the loss/stolen/fraud as soon as you know), however I believe that debit cards do NOT have the same protection. And I'm also not sure about ATMs.
So this is one reason I take only a credit card and not a debit card with me when I travel.
It would be interesting if anyone could post the specifics for what the consumer's liability is in various scenarios.
ann_nyc is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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This post reminded me of a blog that I read a while back--it's really long, but it's a story of one guy who got ripped off at a Joburg ATM:
Gritty is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Debit cards are covered as long as you didn't give somebody your pin.
hills27 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 05:53 PM
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p.s. the big difference is that you have to notify the bank within 48 hours of when you BECOME AWARE that there is a problem. Not a big obstacle. Most people will call their bank immediately.

Here's a summary of your protection:
hills27 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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p.p.s. and that's only if you lose the card. If someone gets your number, you have 60 days after the bank statement is mailed.
hills27 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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Thanks hills27 for good info (applies for us in USA).

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
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