The threat of fraud

28 November 2012

According to the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service, identity crime and fraud amounted to R720 170 608 for 2009. In South Africa there are over 18 million credit active consumers however in the 3rd quarter of 2009, only 52 973 requested to receive their free credit report.

Luke Hirst, MD of Debt experts, DebtBusters says, ‘It is imperative consumers obtain their credit report from a registered credit bureau. The National Credit Act introduced new legislation allowing consumers one free credit report annually from each credit bureau. The credit report will give a snapshot of your personal credit history as well as the amount of debt you currently have. The report will go further in giving details of any of your accounts that are in default or have come through the legal process. Ultimately, by checking your credit report regularly, you will also know if anyone has used your identity to fraudulently open an account.’

The implications can be horrific when you are the victim of fraud. These individuals take over your name, your identity and trick credit providers as well as other financial institutions to grant them credit by using this alias.

Ultimately this can lead to you being blacklisted at the Credit Bureaus, which will affect your ability to take out a home loan or vehicle finance, as well as your ability to get another job, especially if you work in a professional environment.

Hirst goes on, ‘The solution is simple. By obtaining a copy of your credit profile and checking your credit history on a quarterly basis, you will be able to immediately know whether or not anyone has obtained credit fraudulently in your name. If you find yourself a victim, then contact the credit provider and the credit bureau immediately, who will then give you a reference for the investigation. Make sure you follow up and if it not resolved then escalate the matter to the National Credit Regulator.’

Identity fraud usually begins with the theft of documents like a credit card, ID book and driver’s. Be very careful when you are throwing out your bank or credit card statement and if you lose your Identity document, passport or driving licence report this to the police immediately and make sure you are given a case number.

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