Sassa grant beneficiaries using gold cards will not be able to withdraw their funds from ATMs in December. Picture: SUPPLIED
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The department of social development in the Western Cape has slammed Postbank’s decision to suspend ATM withdrawals by SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) gold cardholders after the lender uncovered criminal networks targeting ATMs to access accounts.

Sassa grant beneficiaries using gold cards won’t be able to withdraw money in December, and have been advised to withdraw their social grant money at any retail outlet that offers cashback facilities. They include Shoprite, Checkers, Usave, Pick n Pay and Boxer stores.

Grant recipients can still use cards to make purchases at outlets that accept bank cards.

Social development MEC Sharna Fernandez said the decision to suspend ATM withdrawals was “unacceptable”, especially during the festive season, instead of fixing a long-running problem.

“Our office has received numerous complaints from beneficiaries and ward councillors ... How was this issue of criminals infiltrating the network only picked up now, after months of technical problems? No time frames have been given to beneficiaries as to when the issue will be resolved, leaving many in limbo,” she said.

“It is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness, yet for many Sassa grant beneficiaries, it has become a nightmare, Fernandez added. “We call on social development minister Lindiwe Zulu to intervene and find a solution to this problem as a matter of urgency,” Fernandez said.

Postbank said in a statement last week that technical glitches had disrupted the withdrawal of social assistance benefits.

“Following extensive investigations, we have uncovered network attacks by criminal elements determined to commit systematic ATM card fraud-related crimes on Postbank payments using sophisticated modus operandi which require further investigation,” it added.

“Postbank is aware of the impact this change in payment channels will have on social grant beneficiaries and other stakeholders, and we apologise for the inconvenience,” Postbank said.

“Social grant beneficiaries are assured the Postbank-issued Sassa gold cards are valid and have not expired. Beneficiaries should not be misled into changing the cards unless they want to on their own accord.”

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