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How to stay step ahead of fraudsters

LIKE many other South Africans, Judas Ngobeni could have been blacklisted for debt he did not incur himself.

But he has enlisted the services of an agency that alerts consumers via SMS each time a transaction has been made in their name - TransUnion. In turn, the affected consumer raises an alarm when a purchase turns out to be fraudulent.

Ngobeni believes that being a member of TransUnion - which also gives him regular updates each time a company makes a credit check on him - has saved him from a "life of hell".

TransUnion is a registered credit bureau and a repository of credit information on consumers and businesses.

Had he not been a member Ngobeni would be fighting to clear his name with retail stores, furniture stores and banks, among others.

"I got an SMS from TransUnion about a goods purchase worth R15000 from Lewis Furnitures. I immediately called the store and the account was not approved," he said.

"The person who stole my identity also tried to buy three cellphones from Foschini. He had my information on his ID but the pictures were different."

The transaction, too, did not go through and neither did the R20000 credit card he applied for at Woolworths, purchase of beds at Bed and Lounge Furniture Store and accounts at Neotel, among others.

Ngobeni said he was able to get onto the TransUnion website and check his credit status.

"The fraudster could have ruined my life. I urge people to take care and not just give their identity documents to anyone.

"These fraudsters work in a syndicate. We live in a world where you cannot trust anyone," Ngobeni said.

CreditExpert from Experian is another online credit monitoring and identity fraud protection service from Experian. Experian is one of South Africa's largest credit bureaus.

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