However, with the alarming increase in identity theft stats in South African and holiday times often piquing in incidents, you need to take extra precautions to protect your personal information. Identity theft is a type of scam is when criminals gain access to your personal information and use it to gain financial benefits with credit providers, access your banking accounts, use your medical aid benefits or sell your information to other criminals.
Identity theft can cause you financial and reputational damage and can be time-consuming and expensive to recover from. People from all walks of life and different demographics fall victim to this crime. For example, many have found their employment applications rejected for credit accounts they did not know have been created using their information, all because their bag was stolen.
It is in your best interest to protect your information.
Here are our top tips on how to do this:
- Never give out your personal information to any unsolicited emails or calls. Financial institutions will never request your pin, OTP or CVV in that manner.
- Never type your password or user name on any unfamiliar login screens or website.
- When entering your card details for payment online make sure that you do so on a protected site verify the URL web address ensure that it begins with https (that s is for secure) there must also be a tiny padlock symbol in the browser navigation bar.
- Sign up for mobile banking alerts to assist you in detecting any unfamiliar transactions.
- Download your bank's official mobile app so you can monitor any unfamiliar transactions and dispute them.
- Monitor your credit reports every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Compuscan and Experian). Read your credit reports to make sure that they don’t contain any incorrect addresses or accounts that you didn’t open. If you see something suspicious, contact the credit reporting agencies and your bank immediately.
- Register for alerts with the credit reporting agencies in order to receive alerts when a credit check is done on your name this will assist you in identifying any unsolicited credit applications done in your name and give you a chance to stop them before they are approved.
- Change your pins/passwords regularly, do not write them on paper and leave them unprotected. Impersonators are counting on the fact that you'll use the same password/pin for all electronic devices, and for your key financial accounts. Once a fraudster obtains a single password, access to the rest of your accounts is easy to accomplish, if every password/pin is the same.
Limit your exposure to identity theft by not carrying unnecessary personal information with you in your wallet purse etc. Store your personal information and documentation in a safe place preferably locked away.
Identity theft is a reality all over the world, but with the right precautions, you can prevent it affecting you personally.