SASSA scam warning

Pensioners and other grant beneficiaries robbed of cash


VULNERABLE pensioners and other state beneficiaries are being targeted by unscrupulous skelms. Over the past few weeks, the Daily Voice has received numerous complaints from defrauded Sassa card holders. Fraudsters obtain beneficiaries' personal information, as well as details of their Sassa payment cards, clone the card and then use it to buy prepaid services like cellphone airtime and electricity. Sassa assures victims they can claim their money back.

Pensioners Daphne Hendricks, 69, and Peter Africa, 69, who live at Apricot Place for the Elderly in Bonteheuwel, were conned out R160 each after thieves bought airtime on their Sassa accounts. Missing "When I asked Sassa about the missing money, they said I bought airtime, but I don't even own a cellphone," says Daphne. "The police told us all the skelms needed was the last four digits at the back of our cards." Daphne says about three weeks ago, a woman posing as a Sassa official came by the home promising food parcels. "She said she needed our ID numbers, our Sassa card numbers and phone numbers. But we have not received any groceries. The police came to take our statements and we went to the Sassa office but they said they can't help us," she adds. Peter says the missing R160 is a massive setback for him. "I have nothing, not even a R5 to buy me bread," he says with tears in his eyes. "How can people do this to us?"

Leonard Morkel from Strand says thieves bought airtime and electricity on his wife's Sassa account. "A woman called to say she is from Sassa and they needed my wife's details to issue a new card because her old card had been cloned," he says. "She asked for her ID number and the last four digits at the back of the card. We became suspicious when a neighbour who is not a state beneficiary also got a call. "We asked Sassa to block the card, so now no one can buy any prepaid services on it."

 Sassa 's annual report revealed more than 7 700 fraud and corruption cases were registered in 2012/13. Sassa introduced a bio-metric payment system in 2013. This method is meant to eradicate fraud and corruption. The social grant beneficiaries were reregistered and verified. Close to 16 million South Africans receive social grants. Sassa Western Cape Director Dr Waldi Terreblanche says the matter is being investigated on a national level, and that defrauded beneficiaries can claim their money back. "Service provider Cash Paymaster Services will investigate instances where fraud was committed and is willing to reimburse beneficiaries where this was not done because of their own negligence," says Terreblanche. "The beneficiaries should either report these deductions to Sassa offices who should refer this to our service provider for investigation or they can call the CPS toll-free number to report it . CPS would then repay the amounts deducted to beneficiaries and also put a stop on the card so that further purchases of airtime cannot be made."

Terreblanche warns beneficiaries to protect personal information. "For many of the beneficiaries this is the first time that they own a debit card and that they are operating in the banking environment. The Sassa card is a debit card and can be cloned or targeted as any other debit card from banking institutions. "If they receive such calls they should not provide any information but should rather call the CPS or Sassa to verify the request."

  • Protect your grant cash SASSA urges grant beneficiaries to keep their cards and personal information secure.
  • Your PIN code is the 4-digit number you choose when you first received your Sassa payment card.
  • Do not give your PIN code or Sassa card to anyone - relatives, your children or micro loan companies - because they can then withdraw your money.
  • If you have forgotten your PIN code, you must go to the nearest Sassa office to reset it.
  • If your card is lost or stolen you must immediately call the Help Desk at 0800 600 160 to put a STOP on the card.
  • Go to the nearest police station and get an affidavit. Take the affidavit with you when you apply for a new card at Sassa.
  • Only funeral schemes or insurance deductions are allowed on your card. The deduction must not be more than 10 percent of the value of your social grant amount.
  • Only accredited financial service providers are allowed to sell funeral schemes/insurance.

REMEMBER:

* You may not use your card as security to get a loan from a money lender

* You may not hand over the card to a money lender

*You may not falsely state the card was lost if it was pledged with a money lender to secure a loan

ALERT: Do not trust text messages that ask for your details KEEP CARD SAFE: Sassa cards must be kept secure by the beneficiary

* Cash Paymaster Senrices (CPS) toll-free number - 0800 600 160

* South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) - 0800 60 10 11

* Sassa emergency line 012 400 2322

* The Black Sash Heipline -072 6633 739 or email help@blacksashiorgza

* Cape Town Child Welfare - 0800 435 754

* Department of Social Development - 0800 220 250