Monitoring of bank statements is important

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A bank statement includes all transactions administered by customers from respective banks across South Africa. The charges on these statements may take many forms, including monthly charges for the provision of an account. However, many consumers are not always fully aware of some charges and what they are for.
Bank statements have become an essential part of our daily living. Bank accounts have become a fundamental aspect of a banking system, an instrument allowing citizens to interact with the financial system that has become one of the cornerstones of society. Debt management expert, Wikus Olivier, says most people never or rarely look at their bank accounts or credit card statements. And when they do, there are often strange amounts deducted for things they haven't authorised.
Olivier explains: "People need to take out their bank statements when they set up their monthly budget. They must work with their budget on the one side and their bank statement on the other. They need to go through every transaction and make sure it is accounted for and has been authorised."
Olivier adds the public should take note of their debit orders and more or less arrange for them to go through at the same time as it is easy for syndicates to load their own debit orders from your account.
"You should be aware of the amounts and certain transactions that you have authorised. For rest (that you cannot categorise), you need to investigate where those other charges have come from, especially debit orders. Syndicates load their own debit orders and usually banks do not notify you when it's less than a hundred rand."
Olivier points out that people must be educated on banking systems, especially in remote areas. "As far as education goes from our side, we try to educate people on a daily basis with blog posts and tools to equip them on their finances. In rural areas, however, it's a drive that should come from banks. They obviously have clients in those areas too."
Meanwhile, Bloemfontein Courant interviewed the public to find out about their experiences and knowledge around bank statements, transactions and the charges that appear on their statements. Manley Vuyo Manzini, a 26-year-old male from Bethlehem, says he is not completely educated as to how much he is being charged on his statements. "I usually get irregular deductions that only come to my attention when I have to utilise the statement for something else."
A 32-year-old mother of one, Bontle May, says she checks her statements on a monthly basis. She says this routine had alerted her of an irregular transaction during which money was withdrawn from her account. "I noticed I had R500 but when I went to the bank it was R150, so I reacted quickly and the amount was reversed."
Olivier concludes by saying consumers must take control of their finances and take responsibility for any strange amounts deducted from their accounts. – Lindiwe Mathebula
lindiwe@centralmediagroup.co.za