Dealing with fraud as a result of identity theft

Dealing with fraud as a result of identity theft
Don't fall victim to fraudulent practices

We help you safeguard your personal information to prevent this criminal offence against you.

Nombali Kheswa
Nombali Kheswa - Debt Counsellor
13 July 2021 | 4 minute read
Legal You Q2 2021 Feature Story Banner Headers9

Identity theft is a fast-growing crime in South Africa. TransUnion research found that half of consumers have fallen prey to identity theft or know someone who has. It is often referred to as a silent crime because it often goes undetected for lengthy periods of time before people check in on their finances to find out that something is amiss.

They may only find out when they receive letters of demand of accounts they know nothing about.

What is identity theft?

This is when an unauthorised person assumes your identity by using your personal details – they do so with the intention of committing fraud or another criminal act.

How does it happen?

Hackers look for your personal documents with any information about you printed or electronically discarded by you, which puts you at risk.

They hack onto sites where you have made purchases and can also gather information from your social media pages.

What to do if it happens to you?

  • Gather all of your evidence which includes emails, letters, dates and times
  • Give this evidence to the police when you report the fraud. Get a copy of the report as you will need it to show your bank and other companies to prove the crime as well as the case number.
  • Report the fraud to the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service on 0860 101 248. They send alerts to most lenders, making them aware of the fraud case. The South African Fraud Prevention Service is a non-profit organisation aimed at improving vigilance when it comes to fraud, financial crime and identity theft. Together with some of South Africa's biggest brands, they deliver a centralised fraud-prevention function. They have a powerful fraud database for you to detect and prevent fraudulent activity. They have also designed systems and tools to combat fraud and financial crime.
  • Pull your credit report to see if there are any fraudulent listings. You can then remedy any signs of identity theft..
  • Protect your identity by changing all of your login details and passwords – you should be changing your passwords on a regular basis.
  • Be aware of emails from unknown senders

Always be cautious and protect yourself by doing the following:

  • Never use information that has been compromised.
  • Don't carry personal information on you.
  • Don't disclose personal information like pins or passwords to anyone on the phone and/or email.
  • Register for SMS notifications when products or accounts are accessed.
  • Change your passwords regularly and make sure they are strong.
  • If your ID book or any other personal documents get stolen, report the theft immediately to the police.
  • Don't use unsecured computers like hotels or conference centres to do your banking.
  • Always, where possible, implement dual authorisation for all accounts and your financial services products.
  • Lock your post box.
  • Protect your online identity.
  • Don't leave any personal documents lying around.
  • Don't use obvious passwords.
  • Stay on top of your finances so that you are aware if your identity has been comprised.

How does the POPI Act protect my information?

We live in a digital age and a lot of our lives and business are now conducted online. This means we are sharing a lot of information but not seeing where it ends up. Often private information we give is then used in ways to which we did not agree.

Sometimes, if information is used or stored incorrectly, harm can come to us through cybercrimes. People have been known to steal identities and money by stealing our data.

Shopping is also often no longer being done face-to-face, instead companies are using our contact details to market to us in ways that invade our privacy and are sometimes even potentially dangerous.

We have all seen, and most likely skipped over, the tiny writing of terms and conditions where companies deliberately use language that is difficult to understand when stating what they might do with information we share. They might be trying to trick us and POPI will no longer accept this business practice, POPI is on the side of the consumer all the way!

POPI protects our constitutional right to privacy.

With Legal&Tax you're not alone

If you’re a victim of identity theft, Legal&Tax can assist you by pulling up your credit report to check if there is any incorrect or fraudulent information on there. Get in touch with us for assistance.

Disclaimer: The content of this article was correct at the time of publishing, but the legislation or underlying information forming the basis of this article may have changed. You should always speak to a qualified Legal&Tax advisor before making any decisions.

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