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ID theft: Don't be a victim

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ID theft: Don't be a victim


Mar 27 2007


Cape Town


As the Easter holiday season nears, people are out spending more than usual, increasing the risk of identity fraud.


Patrick Cunningham, head of the South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS), says that impersonation and ID theft are "a huge problem".


Cunningham says criminal syndicates either obtain ID books from bag snatchings and smash and grab incidents, or manufacture them: "The South African ID document is notoriously easy to forge," he says.


The syndicate's "runners" then take the books and "test" them at various banks and retailers, seeking to open accounts and take out loans.


Should the runners be successful, both the retailer and the person from whom the ID was stolen are taken for a ride.


Cunningham says there are even corrupt estate agents working together with syndicates looking to get mortgage loans approved using the stolen ID books.


Prevention better than cure


SAFPS and its members - which include the banks, major retailers, insurance firms and mortgage originator SA Home Loans - encourage South Africans to be proactive in order to avoid becoming victims of fraud or ID theft.


"Don't allow people to copy your ID book, unless you know it is a reputable organisation," says Cunningham. "Also, treat your ID book like you would cash - guard it safely and never let it out of your sight."


He also advises that people make regular checks with credit bureaux (such as TransUnion ITC and Experian) and get a copy of their credit profiles to ensure that criminals have not been using their ID to open accounts, rack up bills and tarnish innocent people's good names.


Being proactive does work: "Through collaborating and sharing data on fraud, the non-profit organisation's members prevented R674m in fraud from taking place in the year to end-October," says Cunningham.


He adds that SAFPS' members had filed over 7 000 attempted frauds over the same period.


What to do if you're a victim


If you have lost your ID book, register it with the SAFPS, either by calling the organisation on 0860 101 248 or by registering on its website: http://www.safps.org.za.


SAFPS will circulate your details to all the major banks and retailers to stem the criminal use of the ID book.


Source: news24

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