Capitec partners with home affairs to beat crime

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Capitec bank has partnered with the department of home affairs to beat financial fraud. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Capitec bank has partnered with the department of home affairs to beat financial fraud. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town - Capitec has partnered with the department of home affairs in an effort to limit bank fraud against its customers.

Using its biometric technology, Capitec says it has entered into a database sharing agreement with the department to limit thieves' ability to commit identity fraud.

"By partnering with home affairs we are now making it virtually impossible for identity thieves to target our customers," said Carl Fischer, executive of marketing and corporate affairs at Capitec Bank.

ID theft in South Africa can result in a significant windfall for criminals who are unlikely to be caught.

"It affects both the living and the deceased. ID theft is the fastest growing crime in the world today. It is estimated to generate half a trillion US dollars. Javelin Research claims that every 79 seconds somebody has their identity stolen. ID theft leads to more serious crimes, including money laundering, human trafficking and terrorism," Independent Identity Verification expert Dawid Jacobs told Fin24.

Scammers

And the rewards are handsome.

"ID theft costs the short term insurance industry approximately R4bn per annum," Jacobs added.

News24 reported recently that five people were arrested after being implicated in a R1m life cover claim lodged with 1Life Insurance.

They claimed to relatives of a deceased man and included the owner of a funeral parlour who had allegedly been in on the scam.

Fingerprints are a reliable way to identify individuals. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Scammers are also easily able to get identification details through the placement of employment ads on classifieds sites. With general requirements, people will usually send in ID numbers, addresses, and personal information that a fraudster can use to duplicate an identity.

But the co-operation between Capitec and home affairs is designed to prevent fraudulent transactions.

"Recognising a client through their fingerprints fosters authenticity. So, if for example a client's card is stolen, the fraudster cannot transact in the branch using a false ID, meaning the customer’s money is safe," said Fischer.

Corrupt officials

However, corruption is a reality at all levels in SA and the bank said that it had implemented a procedure to ensure that even a corrupt bank staff member can be traced should he consider conducting fraudulent transactions.

"If staff members conduct a transaction for a client, the individual staff member's fingerprint will be linked to the specific transaction," Fischer added.

However, while the bank may take precautions, the department of home affairs remains a concern because of the number of official that have been suspended because of corruption.

Reports suggest that as many as 60 officials may be serving suspensions while continuing to draw their salaries.

"The evidence is there to show there is collusion between government officials and the fraudsters.  This is why it is vital that the individual takes back control of their ID and make a stolen identity worthless," said Jacobs.

As part of a campaign to protect identities, Jacobs said he is offering free verification of a family member's identification as a way of preventing it from being recycled for criminal enterprise.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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