According to The FNB/Bureau of Economic Research, the Consumer Confidence Index for the first quarter of 2018 rose to a record high of +26 index points, the highest level since a decade ago, a report last month said.
As the year nears the half-way mark, the definite improvement in economic sentiment may lead to a spending spree.
However, as consumers rush to buy new cell phones and other digital devices, open store accounts, apply for home loans and car finance or even personal loans, identity theft remains a huge contributor to fraud, says Manie van Schalkwyk of the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS).
In each of these instances, identity documents must be produced to process the transaction. Whether it’s your ID book, passport, credit card or driver’s license, there’s a fraudster looking over your shoulder waiting to take advantage of your lapse in attention.
SAFPS confirms that the scale of identity theft is rising as more and more transactions are done electronically, although physical theft remains a real danger.
Often the pain comes months after the event when the victim finds bills for purchases never made and at this point it is much harder to reverse the damage done, Van Schalkwyk says.
“The problem is that victims usually only discover that they were the victims of identity theft once they are negatively listed for non-payment of accounts opened in their names or once their credit or loan applications are rejected,” he says.
With so much digital information available you are at risk every time you enter information online and a great deal of identity theft occurs online. And there are still others who scrounge through office waste and household rubbish, looking for discarded information.
SAFPS warns consumers to protect their personal information by sharing it very selectively and on a need to know basis only. Personal information includes identity documents, driver’s licenses, passports, addresses and contact details amongst others. In addition, confidential information, which includes usernames, password and PIN numbers should never be shared with anybody.
If you realise that something is suspicious, then it is advisable to apply for Protective Registration on the SAFPS website. This will provide the consumer with added security and will alert the credit provider or the bank that the specific ID number has been compromised. This service is free of charge to consumers.
In the normal course of events, should you lose your ID or passport or feel that your identity is compromised in any way, go to www.safps.org.za, click on lost passport/ID to apply for temporary Protective Registration that will be issued online.
Here are some tips to manage your personal information.
• Don’t carry unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse.
• Do not be a victim of waste retrieval. Never throw away documents with your bank account details or other personal information without first destroying the information – either shred or burn it (do not tear it up or put it in a garbage or recycling bag).
• Do not disclose personal information such as passwords and pins when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax or even email.
• Do not write down pins and passwords and avoid obvious choices like birth dates and first names.
• Do not use the information that may have been compromised. Rather use other personal information that you have not used previously to confirm your identity in future.
• Don’t use any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN).
• Don’t use Internet cafes or unsecure terminals, hotels, conference centres etc. to do your banking.
• Store personal and financial documentation safely. Always lock it away.
• Register a new email account.
• Implement dual authentication for all accounts and products, especially for financial services products.
• Register for SMS notifications to alert you when products and accounts are accessed.
• Conduct regular credit checks to verify whether someone has applied for credit using your personal information and if so, advise the creditor immediately.
• Investigate and register for credit-related alerts offered by credit bureaux.
• Check all your account statements regularly.
• Keep pin numbers and passwords confidential.
• Verify all requests for personal information and only give it out when there is a legitimate reason to
• Use strong passwords for all your accounts.
• Change your passwords regularly and never share them with anyone else.
• Should your ID or driver’s license be stolen, report it to SAPS immediately.
To prevent your ID being used to commit fraud if it is ever lost or stolen, alert the SA Fraud Prevention Service immediately. SMS “Protectid” to 43366 or at www.safps.org.za