More and more South Africans are losing money due to identity fraud and the clever execution of the fraud often makes it very difficult to detect
The South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS), said identity theft in South Africa has in fact increased substantially over the last six years.
“Last year alone, we saved the banking industry R1.7 billion based on accounts that were declined as a result of a listing at the SAFPS,” said SAFPS’ Manie Van Schalkwyk.
SAFPS confirmed that the scale of the identity theft is rising as more and more transactions are done electronically.
“The problem is that victims usually only discover that they were the victims of identity theft once they are negatively listed for for non-payment of accounts opened in their names or once their credit or loan applications are rejected,” said Van Schalkwyk.
ID theft normally starts with a stolen or lost ID book. The victim’s photograph is usually replaced with that of the fraudster who is doing the impersonation.
“Armed with a fraudulent ID book and fraudulent bank statements, they can apply for loans, take out contracts or even open fraudulent bank accounts,” said Alfred Ramosedi, executive for sales and marketing at African Bank.
While the theft of identity won’t cost you in the short term, it is the long-term cost that needs to be factored in.
“You have to be removed from being blacklisted by credit bureaux, prove that the transactions weren’t yours and in some instances even change your identity number,” explained Ramosedi.
He said ciminals are extremely resourceful and will resort to any measures to get one’s personal information and once they set up a fake ID, they look like they are transacting as a legitimate person.
In order to safeguard yourself from identity fraud here are some useful hints and tips to follow:
- Do not carry unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse.
- Do not disclose personal information such as passwords and pins when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax or even email.
- Do not write down pins and passwords and avoid obvious choices like birth dates and first names.
- Do not use internet cafes or unsecure terminals (hotels, conference centres etc.) to do your banking.
- Do not be a victim of dumpster diving. Neverthrow away documents with your bank account details or other personal information without first destroying the information.
- Protect your personal information at all times.
- Manage your personal information wisely.
- Check your credit profile at a bureau at least once a year. This is a free service from any of the main credit bureaux such as:
TransUnion – 086 148 2482Experian – 086 110 5665Xpert Decision Systems (XDS) – 086 112 7334
Compuscan – 086 151 4131