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Identity fraud and theft increasing in South Africa compared to 2018

On 19 September 2019, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service’s (SAFPS) statistics revealed a rise in identity fraud. Fraudsters using real Identity Documents (ID) and names for impersonations have increased by 99% in relation to 2018.

The executive director of the SAFPS, said fraudsters who used fabricated ID’s and names had decreased by 48% when compared to 2018. There’s been an increase of 47% for 2018’s; 2017 figures and a rise of 33% in 2019 on 2018’s figures.

An example of how identity theft can happen

Identity fraud can happen to anyone at any time but there are some red flags that you can look for to avoid this from occurring. We noticed a recent case where a candidate that was entering a building for an interview, had filled in the manual paper logbook with her full name, company she was from and her ID number.

Soon to follow was a woman who posed as a friend of one of the employees working in the building and too was asked to fill in the manual paper logbook. Not only did she input false details, she swiftly took a photo of the book while the security guard had looked away and walked out of the building stating her “friend” was in a meeting and would come back later.

A few days later, the candidate that had entered the building before the fraudster, had learned that the fraudster opened multiple accounts by fraudulently using her name and ID number.

The SAFPS is fighting against the plague

The SAFPS works to track fraud trends with the aim of dismantling them. The team works with large banks, retail groups, and insurance companies to reach their goals.

The organization also offers free protection to members of the public who have become victims of identity fraud. SAFPS takes the victim’s ID number and files it on their database under the category “Victims of Impersonation” to protect them against further attempts at fraud.

In some cases, the details of the impersonator could also be uploaded on to the database. Compuscan’s director, Frank Lenisa urged consumers to “pay close attention to the threat of fraudulent activity.”

How you can protect yourself from becoming a victim

-          Be attentive when entering your personal details anywhere

-          Shredding all documents that contain your personal information

-          Use strong passwords for all your accounts to prevent easy deciphering

-          Don’t respond to e-mails or SMSes that ask for your personal and banking information

-          Offer to call back people who call from unknown numbers to requests personal information. Calling back will allow you to verify if the company is legit

-          Be wary of the information you share on social media sites and make use of privacy settings

-          ID’s and passports should only be carried when absolutely necessary


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