Identity theft costing SA almost R1bn a year

By Drum Digital
10 July 2015

SAFPS has warned South Africans to take care of their identities to avoid paying for debt they did not incur.

According to the South African Fraud Prevention Association (SAFPS), identity theft is costing the country almost R1bn a year, The New Age reported on Friday.

“We are not in a position to peg an accurate value to these crimes in South Africa, however, we agree that the cost of identity theft and fraud to businesses and members of the public could certainly be at this level,” Carol McLoughlin, executive director of SAFPS was reported to have said.

McLoughlin said a number of organisations belonged to SAFPS and had reported cases of identity theft and fraud where an innocent person’s details were used to open accounts and apply for credit.

“We need to do more to raise public awareness about these crimes, and these criminals must be brought to book.

“It is very difficult to track them down as they are essentially operating as ‘ghosts’ who steal people’s personal information and hide behind the identity of these innocent victims,” she said.

SAFPS is reported to have said criminals were becoming increasingly resourceful and “use so many different types of scams and methods to get their hands on people’s personal information”, the report further said.

Due to this resourcefulness and the sophisticated means with which criminals carried out the illegal activities, it was “extremely difficult to pinpoint any particular type of identity theft”.

Two types of identity theft which appeared to be on the rise are phishing scams and hacking attacks, she said.

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