SA ID theft jumps as crooks eye bosses

Cyber crooks are intent on stealing personal information. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Cyber crooks are intent on stealing personal information. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Identity theft in South Africa is on the rise as cyber crooks eye stealing from company executives, a survey has found.

According to a 2015 Metrofile Information and Records Management Index of 200 executive managers of local companies, 7% of respondents indicated that their companies had been the victim of identity theft in the last year.

That number is up four percentage points from 2014 as cyber crooks eye lucrative schemes to steal personal and financial data.

“It is more lucrative for criminals to target businesses, rather than individuals, when it comes to perpetrating identity theft scams,” said Gianmarco Lorenzi, managing director of Cleardata.

Typical scam

According to the survey, 31% of respondents were either victims of cyber crime themselves or knew someone who was – a 12% increase.

A typical scam involves sending fake letters with company logos, instructing customers to make payments using the new details.

“The customer, thinking this is an authentic business letter, then makes payments into the fraudulent account. The scam comes to light when the business contacts the customer to establish why payments are not being made, only to discover the funds have been paid into the fraudulent account,” said Lorenzi.

The survey ties in with research by the Fraud Prevention Association which found that there were 3 600 cases of identity theft in 2014 while these instances are predicted to increase to 4 000 by the end of 2015.

Legal consequences

Managers in companies who fail to adequately protect personal information could face legal consequences, Lorenzi said.

“Under the Protection of Personal Information Act (Popi) businesses have a legal requirement to ensure the personal information of all stakeholders remains secure and once the regulator is appointed, the business could face fines of up to R10m or jail time.”

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