IN the personal loan sector, impersonation or identity theft is the number one contributor to fraud. This is followed by credit card transaction dispute and phishing fraud.

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, – Alfred Ramosedi, executive for sales and marketing at African Bank.

The South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) says identity theft in South Africa has 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,” says SAFPS’s Manie van Schalkwyk.

SAFPS confirms 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,” says Mr 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, fraudulent bank statements and so on, they can apply for loans, take out contracts or even open fraudulent bank accounts,” says Mr Ramosedi.

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,” explains Mr Ramosedi.

He says criminals are extremely resourceful and will resort to any measures to get one’s personal information. 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:

· 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. Never throw away documents with your bank account details or other personal information without first destroying the information.

DO:

· Protect your personal information at all times.

· Manage your personal information wisely.

· Destroy personal information – either shred or burn it (do not tear it up or put it in a garbage or recycling bag).

· Store personal and financial documentation safely. Always lock it away.

· Keep pin numbers and passwords confidential.

· Pay attention to account cycles. Check carefully for any irregularities and report these to your bank immediately.

· Verify all requests for personal information and only give it out when there is a legitimate reason to do so.

· Install firewall and antivirus software protection to prevent a computer virus sending out personal information from your computer.

· 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 1482482), Experian (086 1105665), Xpert Decision Systems (XDS) (086 1127334), Compuscan (086 1514131).

Ad By Download Campaign Ppt Video Favorite Created Online If you are worried you may become a victim of fraud, you can ask the bureaux to put an alert on your name and you will be notified in the event anyone tries to open a fraudulent account in your name. Consumers can also lodge a Protective Registrations or register as a Victim with the SAFPS. This is a free service to consumers. Consumers can contact SAFPS on 0860 101248 or SMS the word “protectid” to 43366 and they will be contacted directly.

“Banks are continuously looking at innovative and improved security measures like biometrics to prevent this type of fraud but if you do become the unsuspecting victim of identity fraud you must immediately report your lost or stolen ID or driver’s licence to SAPS and alert SA Fraud Prevention Service immediately on the number or sms line listed above,” concludes Mr Ramosedi.

(Information from The South African Banking Risk Information Centre and African Bank)

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