Once your personal information has been stolen:
- thieves can withdraw money from your account
- run up charges on your credit cards
- open bank accounts
- apply for credit
- use your medical insurance for treatment
Estimates are that identity theft costs the South African economy more than R1 billion a year.
What to do if your identity has been stolen
Close or freeze your accounts and credit cards immediately.
Change your logins, pins or passwords and replace your cards.
Call the fraud contact number for your bank or relevant institution.
Order and review your credit reports from the credit review organisations.
Contact the police and file a fraud report.
How to find a resolution
Close accounts fraudulently opened by thieves
Ensure to get a letter from the companies where accounts have been opened to state the account isn’t yours and that the company will remove it from your credit report.
Dispute fraudulent charges
Call companies where the bogus charges were made and ask them to remove the transactions. Then, request a letter saying they removed the bad charges.
Correct credit reports
Contact credit bureaus and ask them to block fraudulent accounts from your credit report.
Even after you take all of these important steps, you’ll want to keep an eye on your accounts for some time.
How can I protect myself against identity theft?
Although some identity thieves use sophisticated techniques beyond your control, there are basic safeguards you should take for protection:
- Store your ID and passport in a safe place
- Never share your pin number with anyone
- Always keep your card in sight in public places
- Use complex, unique passwords and change them regularly for banking and online shopping profiles
- Don’t provide personal information to any untrusted website
- Don’t click on suspicious online links
- Don’t give out personal information over the phone without verifying the credibility of caller
- Don’t be stupid and post things like your new driver’s license on social media
- Shred documents that contain your personal information
- Monitor your financial statements
- Keep your snail mail safe
Are you covered?
If you have personal liability insurance, you ought to be covered against identity theft.
Speak to your broker today to find out if you are covered sufficiently.
* This article is informational and educational and should not be used or relied on as financial or professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss from reliance upon any information herein.