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Handy tips to avoid ID theft

SA hit by sharp increase in fraud incidents

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
SA hit by sharp increase in fraud incidents.
SA hit by sharp increase in fraud incidents.
Image: REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of Southern Africa Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS), said SA has seen a sharp increase in fraud incidents including identity theft last year.

Van Schalkwyk said there was a staggering increase of 337% of cases where people either tried to impersonate or successfully did it.

The Eastern Cape and Gauteng recorded increases of 161% and 120% with email scams where people were asked to apply for payment holidays and fake applications for Covid-19 grants being mainly used to steal people's information to be able to impersonate them.

"Fraudsters would ask someone to click on a link to apply for a Covid-19 grant and get all their valuable information, including their addresses, bank details and personal details which they would later use to impersonate them," Van Schalwyk said.

She advised Lerato Mabaso to get a copy of her credit bureau profile and contact all service providers that appear to inform them that she's a victim of identity theft so that they could all launch investigations.

"She must not pay as she cannot feel responsible because her ID was stolen and she must also consider contacting the credit ombudsman to assist in getting her cleared from being blacklisted," Van Schalkwyk said.

Here are handy tips to avoid identity theft

  •  Report the identity theft to the SAPS;
  • Freeze your existing bank accounts and the bank accounts opened by the thief. Get new PINs; 
  • Check your credit report regularly for any signs that someone might have stolen your identity. You can review your report for signs of suspicious activity, such as accounts that you don't recognise or credit checks from companies with which you've never done business; and
  • For insurance fraud, report the matter to your insurance company and register as a victim of identity theft with the South African Fraud Prevention Services.

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