Phone contract extended in scam

FURIOUS: Motsidisi Tau at her home in Riverlea, JohannesburgPHOTO: PETER MOGAKI
FURIOUS: Motsidisi Tau at her home in Riverlea, JohannesburgPHOTO: PETER MOGAKI

Scams and scammers differ, but their main objective is to deprive consumers of their hard-earned money.

But it is quite disturbing to be scammed by an employee of your service provider who has access to your personal details like salary slips and identity documents.

The Protection of Personal Information (Popi) Act has been promulgated to ensure that customers are protected from any sort of fraudulent activity and prejudice they may suffer due to the reckless conduct of service providers.

The purpose of the Popi Act is to ensure that all South African institutions conduct themselves in a responsible manner when collecting, processing, storing and sharing another entity's personal information by holding them accountable should they abuse or compromise people's personal information in any way.

The case of Motsidisi Tau, 55, of Orlando West Extension in Soweto, exemplifies the violation of the Popi Act as her personal information was fraudulently used at the Maponya Mall branch of Vodacom by an employee, she said.

Tau said she had two cellphone contracts with Vodacom, one of which was due to end at the end of October 2015. When entering into a contract she gave Vodacom copies of her ID document and a pay slip as required, she said. This personal informationwassubsequently fraudulently used.

Tau said she had notified Vodacom that she intended not to renew her contract when it ended in October but they had gone ahead and renewed it without her consent, using her personal details.

The Consumer Protection Act says the user needs to terminate such contracts in writing as service providers may automatically renew them if the consumer does not do so before the expiry date.

However, Tau said she received three SMSes on October 24 2015 notifying her of the successful upgrade of her contract and that the new deal was to expire on December 6 2017.

Tau said she immediately called Vodacom to enquire about the upgrade and they confirmed that an employee named only as Peter had assisted her with the renewal of the contract.

The next day she went to the branch to verify this and coincidentally was assisted by the said Peter, who advised her to lodge a complaint in an affidavit form.

"Peter confirmed that such fraudulent upgrades do happen and that fake IDs are used and they sometimes issue new cellphones."

He asked Tau to send the complainttohispersonale-mail address but he never attended to it and resigned from Vodacom two weeks later, Tau said.

"At that moment I did not suspect that he was the one who defrauded me," Tau said.

She later discovered that Peter was a manager of the store and was responsible for the fraudulent renewal of her account.

Though Vodacom had confirmed that it had reversed the fraudulent upgrade, Tau still gets bills for a phone she does not have.

Before the upgrade she used to pay a monthly bill of R718 for two cellphones, she said. This month the bill was R7000.

"I want Vodacom to reconnect my phone, detach my name from their employee's debt and tell me why I must pay Peter's debt," said Tau.

Vodacom spokesperson Londiwe Sibisi said they were investigating Tau's compliant and can only comment once the investigation is completed.