Republic Bank maintains Visa card safe for use but promises to reimburse fraud-affected customers

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Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited maintains its Visa OneCard is safe for use as numerous customers complain of fraudulent activities.

The Bank’s Marketing and Communications Manager Jonelle Dummett responded to several questions from the News Room after several reports of continuing woes with the Visa OneCard were confirmed.

Dummett, responding to questions via email, acknowledged that some customers have been impacted by fraudulent activities connected to the Visa OneCard. Those impacted customers, she noted, were being contacted by the Bank.

The Manager, however, posited that the Bank’s card remains safe for customer use.

“Yes, our Visa OneCard is safe for use and the Bank stands by its commitment to reimburse cardholders for any transactions proven fraudulent,” the email responses stated.

But what exactly has been the problem?

Customers with Visa OneCards- which are international debit cards that can be used at ATMs or to pay for goods and services (including online transactions)- reported some fraudulent transactions.

In many cases, online payments were made unknown to the cardholder. Those transactions varied from zero-dollar payments to the disbursement of thousands of dollars; and payments were made to local and foreign merchants.

When engaged on Tuesday, Dummett said Republic Bank could not disclose exactly how many persons have been affected since it has deemed that information as “sensitive”.

INITIAL RESPONSE

Before Dummett was engaged, the Bank started to address some concerns raised prominently on social media.

On June 28, the Bank published an “Important Notice” that addressed some of these fraud concerns on its Facebook page.

Part of the notice read: “Republic Bank was recently alerted by the Bank’s monitoring systems to unusual Visa OneCard activity at some global online merchants. Based on the reports received, the Bank took immediate steps to block related sites to minimise the possibility of further fraudulent attempts.”

Additionally, the Bank said all related transactions would be impacted and as such, any individual seeking to conduct a legitimate transaction will be required to conduct their customer support on 227-4725.

Customers were also told that all fraudulent transactions will be reimbursed.

This notice was issued days after numerous complaints were made. Still, five days after the notice was issued and the Bank attempted to curtail the issue, a News Room reporter was among those affected by continued fraud attempts.

CONTINUED ISSUES

At 02:41 hrs on July 4, the reporter received an email indicating that the RepubliC Bank card was used 10 minutes before. It was a zero-dollar transaction for a point of sale purchase in Stockholm, Sweden.

Such emails are received each time the Visa OneCard is used.

Notably though, the email showed that the transaction was approved by the Bank though the cardholder did not make the purchase. In fact, the cardholder was fast asleep until 07:00 hrs that morning.

When told about this specific issue, Dummett responded with assurances of reimbursements if any funds are lost. She also confirmed that transactions of varying amounts, and not just zero-dollar payments, were flagged.

This is not the first time Republic Bank customers have been hit with these woes.

In August 2020, via a release, the Bank confirmed that it detected fraudulent online payment card activities at some global merchants. That resulted in some customers’ cards becoming compromised.

A year before, in May 2019, similar fraudulent activities were recorded.

Still, the Bank backs its system.

“While card fraud isn’t unique to Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited, we understand the public’s concern. The Bank maintains an active fraud monitoring system and works with all stakeholders in any instance of fraud,” Dummett’s email responses further stated.

Customers were also advised to vigilantly monitor their account activity through their bank statements or via Republic Bank’s online banking services.

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