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26 Jun 2014

Victum Of Fraud? Check Your Credit Report

Credit Report, ID Theft No Comments

Identity theft is rising in South Africa.

It increased 16% last year, and only 14,000 credit-active South Africans out of 20.64-million cared to check their credit report last year.

The crime is draining more than R1bn a year from the economy, according to statistics released by the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) on Thursday.

1,370 cases had been reported by the end of April. The category of crime surged from 3,327 cases in 2012 to 3,873 last year, and the figure is expected to continue to soar this year.

Identity fraud has become a nuisance as the majority of consumers prefer credit to cash. SAFPS executive director Carol McLoughlin said the trend was worrying, and she advised businesses and consumers to be more prudent with personal information. The increase in digital services might be instrumental in the rise of identity theft, she said. “A lot of phishing sites look so authentic and most consumers don’t realise they are not. It is a concern. The numbers are growing. We hope any type of regulation related to this will help us curb the problems.” She urged firms to protect digital personal details of consumers.

Government has introduced new legislation to ensure that consumers’ personal information is protected. The Protection of Personal Information Act, signed into law last year, forces organisations to tighten personal information security.  The act provides strict guidelines on which data can be obtained and how the data can be used.

Credit bureau Compuscan director Frank Lenisa said: “It’s concerning to see there is a rise in identity fraud. What worries us even more is that consumers are often unaware that they have fallen victim to such a crime and this could have a severe negative knock-on effect in their ability to obtain credit in future.”

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