Identity fraud is a major problem in South Africa, with identity theft costing South African businesses in excess of R1 billion a year.
Businesses aren’t the only ones affected, with citizens having to deal with the financial and time repercussions of having their identity stolen.
A MyBroadband reader recently shared his story with us, where he had over R13,000 deducted from his bank account due to a fraudulent cellphone contract being opened in his name.
The fraudsters had cloned one of his identity documents, discovered his bank account number, opened a cellphone contract, and racked up a R13,000+ bill.
Fortunately, the network operator closed the account and marked it as fraudulent, while his bank reversed the offending debit order.
What you can do to protect yourself
For consumers looking to protect themselves from identity fraud, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Association (Safps) is an organisation which can assist.
The Safps is able to take on fraudsters in South Africa thanks to its partnerships with the country’s banks, financial institutions, and retailers.
“Safps is a non-profit fraud prevention company that has been providing fraud prevention services to member organisations in South Africa for the past 14 years,” said the association’s Carol McLoughlin.
“Its primary function is to facilitate the sharing of fraud information filed by Safps members onto our database, for the purpose of detecting and preventing fraud.”
Safps members include:
- Banks – Nedbank, Standard Bank, FNB, Absa
- Retail groups – JD Group, Mr Price, Truworths, Lewis
- Mobile operators – MTN
- Insurers, screening bureau services, and forensic auditing firms.
“Members have the ability to do searches against around 90,000 records listed in the fraud database, to carry out checks on every customer, prospective employees, as well as agents and suppliers.”
How Safps helps consumers
If a consumer’s identity has been compromised, as was the case of the MyBroadband reader and the fraudulent cellphone contract, they can ask the Safps to place them under protective registration.
“The person’s details will be loaded onto the Safps database to alert the member organisations that this person’s ID is vulnerable and could be used by fraudsters to commit identity fraud.”
These organisations then take extra steps to check whether they are dealing with the genuine person, or the criminal, when the registered details – ID number – are used, for example, to open a new cellphone contract.
“A copy of the innocent victim’s ID is scanned in… so that member companies can compare the true victim’s ID against the ID of any future applicants (impersonators/fraudsters) who attempt to use this ID number to apply for loans, open accounts, submit claims, etc.”
Protective registration is free for consumers.
Safps in the fight against fraud
Since its inception, the Safps has loaded over 90,000 records into its database, and members have reported savings in excess of R7 billion.
“Over the past four years, the membership base has grown by 61% and we are delighted that we are beginning to make strong inroads into some of the untapped industry sectors,” said McLoughlin.