Are Bank Transaction Alerts An Important Part Of Security?

Mobile Phone - SMS - Zimbabwe, Mobile Penetration

So in an earlier article I talked about how not to receiving an sms alert whenever I used the FBC Mobile Moola card’s swipe function was a serious security flaw. Needless to say a lot of people felt otherwise. They argued in the comments that while having SMS alerts was a nice feature to have- not having it did not constitute a security flaw.

Some alerts are not life and death

I partly agree with them, some transactions are not really life and death in nature. For example when someone deposits money into your account they can personally inform you that they have made a deposit and you can conveniently check your balance to confirm the amount, has been indeed, deposited into your account.

While it would indeed be convenient to have these alerts send to you, not receiving them, would not indeed be a matter of security. In any case the person making the deposit has all the incentive to make you aware that they have made such a deposit for example in the event of you receiving rentals from your tenant. The tenant would want to make sure you know they have paid their rent.


For some transactions it is a matter of security

There are some type of transactions for which an sms alert is an important security measure especially in the card cloning era. Back in the day all you had to do was make sure your card was in your possession. Nowadays technology makes it very easy for people to clone your card which essentially means there will now be two cards linked to your account.

The only way you can quickly know whether someone has used a cloned card linked to your account is via sms alerts. From personal experience this really makes a difference.You can get in touch with your bank via a hotline and have the card blocked before further damage is done. Some banks such as FBC even have apps that allow you to disable a card which you can do as soon as you discover the fraud. It is also easier to investigate a fresh crime compared to one that occurred a week ago but you only just became aware of.

In my book the following transactions require alerts:

  • Password/Pin or personal information changes
  • ATM withdrawal (should include ATM location)
  • Outgoing transfers
  • POS swipe (Including name of receiving account)
  • Any other debits

A debit essentially means money is flowing out of your account. The only way to know if this has happened is if you look at your bank statement which might mean you discovering fraud on your account much later or if your bank informs you and they are in a position to know as soon as this happens.

Some banks use email alerts while others use both email and sms alerts. The thing though is that sms, imperfect and unreliable as it is, remains the most effective way to reach the most Zimbabwean customers. I think of sms as a form of an alarm. They will not stop fraud but will alert you when and if it occurs. No one has ever doubted the security importance of an alarm and no one should doubt the security importance of debit related sms alerts.

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9 thoughts on “Are Bank Transaction Alerts An Important Part Of Security?

  1. “So in an earlier article I talked about how not to receiving an sms alert whenever I used the card’s swipe function”… Check the first sentence of your article, it is grammatically INCORRECT. May be you also basic training in English writing or copy editing skills.

      1. Lol …The techzim writter corrupted my mind. I am also writing in my personal capacity and not representing a thought leader like Techzim. These guys are not allowed to make silly mistakes dude!!

    1. Ha ha ha 😂😂that happens sometimes even to the best of us for example someone says may be instead of maybe. Doesn’t detract on the message though.

      1. Not to be petty but in your first article you talked about how you did not receive sms notifications. Part of the broken sentence in this article sounds like you talked about instructions for one not to receive SMSs after swiping. That’s a huge difference especially for someone who did not read the first article.

    2. So in an earlier article I talked about how not to receiving an sms alert whenever I used the card’s swipe function”… Check the first sentence of your article, it is grammatically INCORRECT. YOU ALSO NEED BASIC TRAINING IN ENGLISH WRITING AND COPY EDITING

  2. I understand we all err. I come in peace, I do not mean to insult anyone. Almost every article that’s been posted recently has had grammatical errors and poor punctuation. While I do understand we all make mistakes, it makes reading the article painful. Why don’t you guys just use a grammar checker?

    1. We will indeed take more care in the future. Thank you for your feedback it really is important to us.

  3. Just like your first article, you are still confusing convenience and security. An alarm and SMS are tools used to aid security but not security in themselves. I’ll explain why. Having alarm on your house does not mean your house is actually secure. It is secure if it has a high security fence with electric fence on top, big dogs patrolling the yard to deter thieves, think re-enforced doors that are tamper proof with state of the art burglar bars on all window openings. That’s secure. On top of this you can then add a convenient alarm which can trip when a thieve tries to enter this secure compound or yard.

    Same thing with your bank account. Its very secure, PCI compliant, and all systems running on servers with state of the art fail-over systems which are not easily accessible because of physical controls to the data warehouse holding the servers. Its next to impossible to hack the systems via client facing or public facing APIs or end points. That is secure. On top of this you can add SMS alerts to let users know that nothing is happening to their accounts.

    Now you keep saying SMS alerts are important. No they are not. In the scenarios described above, having an alarm at a house which has no doors or even a security fence is not security or has broken or open windows. Having SMS alerts on an insecure banking system is not security if the core system has holes. If it was possible to steal money from my bank account because someone hacked the banking system lets say through the companies’ website, that becomes a big security issue. Not because you did not receive your SMS alert when someone withdrew funds from your account. The risky item is the one that actually exposes you to fraud in the first place.

    Now this ended up being even longer than intended, but hope you get my point. Don’t mix things, security and convenience are two different things. They can be interlinked sometimes but different

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