Identity theft is an increasing problem with South African consumers becoming more ‘relaxed’ with their personal information. Identity theft costs businesses over R1 billion a year and the perpetrators are rarely caught. Criminals use a stolen identity to open fake bank accounts, purchase on credit and take out loans. Over the past 6 years, the number of identity theft cases has increased by more than 200%. The number of cases and the cost to South African businesses are expected to continue to increase as more transactions are done electronically.
Having your identity stolen can cause emotional and financial distress, as well as having a future impact on your ability to get loans, credit cards or even a mortgage if the situation is not resolved. It is important to be careful with your personal information to make sure it does not get into the wrong hands.
What personal information can criminals use? Someone could be successful in stealing your identity by obtaining information that is unique to you. The most common types of personal information are:
Unfortunately, even if you are careful with your personal information, you may still fall into a personal identity theft trap. If you become aware of irregular activity on your accounts or see faulty inquiries on your credit report, here are the steps you should take:
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