Identity theft still rife

2016-02-24 06:00

THE South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) alerts consumers to ways that criminals go about gathering personal information in order to impersonate their victims.

One of the more subtle ways is through social engineering tactics. Criminals will call their victim, pretending to be from the bank, and trick them into disclosing confidential information over the phone.

Emails purporting to be from the bank are also common and of late, some of these are believed to have malware attached to them. According to Sabric, once the malware is installed onto the victim’s computer, it steals sensitive information and sends it to the criminals.

In an email, Kanyisa Ndyondya, media and communications manager at Sabric, revealed that criminals trawl the internet to gather odd bits of information about victims that they then piece together to form profiles. Whilst the individual’s bits of information may be useless in isolation, having a profile of the victim enables the fraudster to step into the shoes of the person being impersonated.

Social media platforms are valuable sources of information for criminals.

“People should be aware that personal details such as the names of their children, their birthdays and their whereabouts, which they post on social media, could be abused by criminals,” warns Kalyani Pillay, CEO of Sabric.

Another way in which fraudsters attempt to steal bank customer’s details is by creating fake competitions, directing consumers to spoofed websites and intercepting emails to gain access to private information. Ndyondya says information is then used to trick the victim into disclosing even more sensitive information, that is used to impersonate the victim in fraudulent activities.

The theft of personal information has resulted in a number of South Africans being defrauded, with some only finding out that they have been a victim of identity theft when applying for new credit facilities.

The South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) has managed to save its members, which include banks, more than R8 billion in fraud prevention through early detection. The SAFPS believes more monies could be saved if bank customers were more vigilant in protecting their personal information.

Sabric further states that, as banks advance with new technologies to fight bank-related fraud, fraudsters are resorting to more subtle ways of stealing personal information.

The role out of the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) biometric verification solution is reported to have made it difficult for criminals to commit identity fraud using tampered identity books, as banks can now verify the identity of clients using their biometric fingerprints.

Whilst it remains important to safeguard one’s identity document, it is important to know that other personal information is also a valuable commodity for criminals, especially in light of the success of the Hanis.

Personal information includes one’s driving licence, telephone numbers, email addresses, PINs and any other information that can uniquely identify you.

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