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.