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Dealing with identity theft

According to TransUnion research, nearly half of South African consumers have either fallen victim to identity theft or know someone who has.

Finding purchases or transactions on your bank statements that you can’t explain?

Receiving credit cards or statements for accounts that you never applied for?

Denied credit for a purchase, even though your credit record is clear?

Chances are that you’ve become one of a growing number of South Africans who have become victims of identity theft, and you need to act quickly to limit the damage.

Kriben Reddy, vice-president of TransUnion’s consumer division, said identity theft is a growing problem in South Africa.
According to TransUnion research, nearly half of South African consumers have either fallen victim to identity theft, or know someone who has.

“The problem with identity theft is that you typically only find out months later, by which time the fraudsters would have obtained false lines of credit and racked up significant debt in your name.

“Generally, thieves will use your identity to purchase products and services on credit, particularly for high-end goods like electronics and luxury items. In the worst-case scenario, they can use your ID to apply for large value credit purchases such as vehicle finance, or even commit a crime using your identity,” said Reddy.

If you think your identity has been stolen, here’s what you must do.

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Report the theft
Immediately report the identity theft to the SAPS, and the company, bank or financial institution where the fraud occurred.
For insurance fraud, contact your insurance company, and let them know your identity has been stolen.
Contact the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) by SMSing “Protectid” to 43366, free of charge. SAFPS will contact you and help you register for a Protective Registration or Victim of Impersonation listing.

Freeze your accounts
Make sure you close your existing bank accounts, as well as the bank accounts opened by the thieves. Get new accounts and PINs.
Notify credit reporting agencies like TransUnion, who will block any further credit applications made in your name.

Protect your identity
Change your login and passwords for all your online accounts – not just the affected ones.
In fact, one of the best ways to protect your identity is to change your email and online passwords regularly.

Be wary of emails and offers from unknown senders
No, you don’t have a billionaire uncle overseas who has been searching for you for years and has finally found your email address.
It sounds extreme, but if the details of your vehicle have been compromised, consider changing the registration number of your car by changing ownership, which will also give you new number plates. You should also consider renewing your driver’s licence.

Keep checking your transaction alerts
The best way to check if your identity and credit is safe is to check your bank and card statements and credit reports.
Fraudsters are especially active at a time of crisis.
Register for your credit score, credit report and profile alerts from TransUnion.
They will notify you if there are any changes or enquiries on your credit profile.
The alerts service is free until the end of December 2020.
A service like TrueIdentity gives you immediate email or SMS alerts when your personal information is detected on the dark web, and gives you access to experts to help you recover and restore your identity.

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