How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

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					                                                                            How to Protect Yourself
                                                                            Against Identity Theft
                                                                            You have rights as a consumer.
                                                                            Understand them. Enforce them.
Images are courtesy of Stock.xchng ( and the dti photo library
The purpose of this leaflet is to warn consumers about iden-
tity theft and provide them with tips on:
•    How to protect themselves against identity theft; and
•    What to do in the event of their identity being stolen.

Are you a victim of identity theft?

In terms of the Electronic Communication and Transaction Act,
No. 25 of 2002, it is a criminal offence to intentionally access or
intercept any data without authority or permission to do so.

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and
used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. It is
your everyday habits that could make you susceptible to identity
theft. Little things, of which consumers do not think, can create
opportunities for an identity thief to grab enough information to
use your identity for fraudulent purposes, damaging your credit
record or, worse, your whole life.

Finding out that your identity has been stolen can be devastating,
and most consumers find out the hard way. Imagine applying
for credit, only to be turned down because your credit record –
which you thought was immaculate – is in a shambles.

How identity theft occurs

At the core, identity theft and credit card fraud are both results
of the same action; both start when a criminal gains access to
your personal information. That information may include your full
names, date of birth, address and telephone number, and even
the names of your family members.

Five common ways in which identity thieves can gain
access to your personal information and steal your identity

1.   Dumpster diving: Criminals rummage through trash
     looking for bills or other papers that contain your personal
2.   Skimming: Your credit or debit card number is
     stolen through the use of a special storage device
     while your card is being processed for payment at a
     store. For example, some merchants print credit card
     numbers on their receipts; this happens if the merchant you
     are shopping with uses one of the old carbon slip credit
     card machines to process credit card transactions, effec-
     tively creating a copy of all your credit card details. Even
     new-generation cash registers print information such as
     the last four digits of your credit card number and its expiry
     date on the receipt. Or you may give your credit card to an
     assistant or cashier to pay for something, and that person
     swipes it twice – once for authorisation, and once to col-
     lect the information encoded on the card. This information
     can be extremely valuable to identity thieves, as it is more
     than enough for them to make purchases telephonically or
3.   Phishing: Criminals pretend to be from some or other le-
     gitimate financial institution or company and send spam or
     pop-up messages requesting you to provide them with your
     personal information. Most criminals use Trojan, a crime-
     ware computer package used by cyber criminals to obtain
     unauthorised access to a victim’s personal information and
     steal it as part of an attack.
4.   Changing of address: A criminal diverts your billing state-
     ments to another location by completing a change-of-ad-
     dress form.
5.   Mail theft: Bank and credit card statements, offers of pre-
     approved credit cards and the like may be stolen from your

Eight tips to minimising the risk of having your identity

1.   Never carry more credit cards than you need, and cancel
     credit card accounts you do not use.
2.   Do not disclose your identity number unless it is absolutely
     necessary, i.e. for banking or any other reasons.
3.   Do not throw away bills or any documents containing ac-
     count or other personal details. Rather burn your docu-
     ments or use a shredder.
4.   Do not leave receipts behind when you buy something.
     Cross-check your credit card bills against the receipts, as
     cashiers may scam customers by debiting their credit or
     debit cards twice and withdrawing the money from their
     cash drawers.
5.   Keep a tight hold on your purse or wallet – pick-pockets and
     purse-snatchers are still alive and well. At parties, in restau-
     rants or while shopping, know where your purse or wallet is
     at all times and be well aware of your surroundings.
6.   When travelling, suspend newspaper and mail deliveries,
     or ask a trusted neighbour or friend to gather these items
     for you. Newspapers piling up outside your house are a
     dead give-away to thieves that you may be away. Mail left
     unattended in an unsecured mailbox provides a ripe op-
     portunity for theft.
7.   Consumers are advised to use computers and Internet
     café’s that are safe and reliable, in order to avoid being
8.   Familiarise yourself with online scams so that you do not
     become the next victim. If it sounds too good to be true,
     chances are it is a scam.

If you believe you have been impersonated or if your
identity has been stolen, you can contact the Southern
African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS)

•    The SAFPS is a unique South African-based service, which
     is committed to combating fraud in society by protecting
     consumers against impersonation and identity theft. The
     SAFPS provides shared fraud data services to all South
     Africa’s major banks, as well as many retailers, asset
     finance organisations and micro-lenders.
•    If you happen to realise that your personal data has been
     stolen, you should first report the case to the South African
     Police Service (SAPS) and obtain a case number. Once
     you have a case number, you can register your identity or
     passport number with the SAFPS. The SAFPS will then
     circulate your details to all major banks and retailers to try
     and stop the criminal usage of your identity.
•    You are also advised to request your credit profile from the
     credit bureaux and organisations listed below to double-
     check whether any other fraudulent transactions have been
     conducted using your identity.
The SAFPS’s Protective Registration Service

The SAFPS offers a free protective registration facility to
members of the public. Anyone whose identity book or other
personal documents have been lost or stolen or who has been
impersonated by another person is encouraged to register this
information with the SAFPS. This can be done on the Internet,
through the SAFPS website, by clicking on the ‘Lost or stolen
ID or passport’ field on the right-hand side of the screen and
capturing the relevant information there.

SAFPS Help-Line: 0860 101 248
Registration form (fax on demand): 082 239 2828
Tel.: (011) 869 6460

For further information on identity theft, contact
the dti Customer Contact Centre
Tel.: 0861 843 384

the dti Consumer and Corporate Regulation Division
Private Bag X84

Other services
the dti’s Education and Compliance Directorate issues this
and other information materials as part of an education service
to consumers.

The Directorate also offers the following services:
•   Advisory opinions and clarifications;
•   Presentations; and
•   Information materials.

Contact Details of Credit Bureaux and Organisations
•   TransUnion : 0861 482 482
•   Experian   : 0861 105 665
•   Compuscan : 0861 514 131

Issued by:
The Education and Compliance Directorate, the dti
the dti Customer Contact Centre
0861 843 384

the dti Postal Address
Education and Compliance Division
Private Bag X84

the dti E-mail Address