What You Can Do About It
The threat of identity theft is a very real – and potentially massively costly – issue for millions of people around the world. It goes without saying that maintaining the safety of your personal information is paramount and it’s also important to keep an eye out for signs that it may have been pilfered and is being used to perform fraudulent transactions.
Signs that your identity may have been stolen can include:
- Withdrawals from your bank account or charges on your credit card for purchases you haven’t made.
- Your credit report (available for free once a year via www.transunion.co.za) shows accounts you haven’t opened or credit checks done by companies you haven’t done business with.
- You’re denied credit for a purchase, even though your credit record should support the application.
- You receive an account for services or products you haven’t made use of or purchased.
- You receive a credit card you never applied for.
- Debtors contact you about accounts you never opened.
- You discover that a tax return has already been filed using your ID number.
- Your medical aid rejects a limit-related claim when you’re aware that you should be nowhere near your limit.
- An employer denies a job application on the back of a poor background check, even though you know your record is clean.
Unfortunately, if any of these things flags are raised, it may already be too late – but early detection can at least limit the damage to your finances and credit record, giving you a better chance of reclaiming your identity.
Get Help with Active Protection
Fortunately with the launch of TransUnion’s TrueIdentity offering, consumers now have access to an extensive set of features and tools to help protect themselves from identity thieves. TrueIdentity was designed to help consumers detect ID theft as well as help them restore their good name and recover from losses incurred as a result.
For just R99 per month (or R799 per year), you have unlimited access to your credit report and score, and will receive SMS or email alerts every time any changes take place on your report, helping you stop identity theft in its tracks. TrueIdentity also actively monitors the dark web – where stolen personal information is traded online - for breaches of your personal information online. The product also offers an extensive restitution service, which aims to reduce the hassle overhead and time required to resolve an ID theft event, giving consumers access to the investigative skills of identity recovery experts. To help you recover from certain financial losses incurred as a result of ID theft, TrueIdentity also includes Identity theft insurance cover of R100 000 through Price Forbes.
Advice for Non-TrueIdentity Users
If you are not using an active protection product, the onus is on you to maintain the security of your information and then manage the process of recovery in the event that your identity is stolen.
Here are some important steps to follow:
- Contact the companies where you suspect the fraud may have occurred to report it and freeze the relevant account(s). Change your login and passwords for all of your accounts – not just the affected ones.
- Since identity theft is prosecuted in terms of common law in South Africa, you need to open a case with the South African Police Service at your local police station. Give them as much information as possible and give an affidavit, asking the police to list all the fraudulent activities you’re aware of, on it.
- Get a copy of the police report and copy down the case number as banks and your creditors may require proof.
- Contact the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) by SMS’ing “Protectid” to 43366, free of charge. SAFPS will contact you and provide a detailed process to follow to successfully register for a Protective Registration or Victim of Impersonation listing.
- If your bank accounts have been compromised, consider closing these and getting new accounts and PIN numbers. Make sure to close any accounts opened by the identity thief.
- If the details of your vehicle have been compromised, consider changing the registration number of your car by changing ownership – which will also give you new number plates. You should also consider renewing your driver’s licence.
- If you’d like to support the search for the person who stole your information, or are unhappy with progress being made by SAPS, you may wish to hire a private investigator.