Statistics from the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) show that identity theft has increased by 200% over the past six years.
Manie van Schalkwyk, the executive director of the SAFPS, says you should avoid “investment” schemes that promise unrealistic returns.
“Consumers also regularly fall victim to several types of advance-fee fraud and often divulge their personal details in the hope of winning a prize in a competition that they never entered,” Van Schalkwyk says.
He says you should do the following to prevent your identity from being stolen:
• Treat your identity document, driver’s licence and personal documents as you would cash. Do not leave them lying around the house or in your car.
• Shred documents before throwing them away.
• Clear your letterbox regularly, particularly if you live in a complex where letterboxes are accessible to a number of people.
• Do not click on URLs (links to websites) in SMSes or emails unless you have initiated the transaction and are certain they are from an authentic source.
• Be cautious about sharing your personal information, particularly when applying for services online.
If you lose your identity document or credit card, Van Schalkwyk says you should contact the SAFPS to apply for protective registration on its database.
“The benefit of protective registration is that all member organisations, including banks, clothing and furniture retailers, and some insurance companies, have access to the SAFPS database, and any identity theft or fraud will be flagged and can be prevented. This is a free service.”
To apply for protective registration, SMS the word “Protectid” to 43366, phone 011 867 2234 or 0860 101 248, or email firstname.lastname@example.org