Identity theft on the rise in South Africa

21 November 2006 Cre8 / Beachhead Media & Investor Relations

Consumers watching helplessly as funds are drained from their bank account or find out that they are 'married' without their knowledge, or receive traffic fines in locations theyve never been will find no comfort in knowing they are part of a growing trend, but identity theft is the fastest growing type of financial fraud in the world, according to Peter Olyott, head of Cre8, the research and development division of Alexander Forbes Risk and Insurance Services.

"In the US its one of the top-ten consumer fraud complaints with losses reaching billions of dollars," said Olyott.

"In South Africa, identity fraud and theft is becoming increasingly sophisticated with hackers accessing personal details of their victims over the Internet.  Often fraud is detected only if a customer reviews his credit card statement or needs to travel outside the country and finds his passport is missing. With cellphone banking on the rise, concomitant risk rises exponentially."

Identity theft and identity fraud refers to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully uses an individuals personal information to represent themselves as the individual for fraudulent purposes, for example, obtaining a credit card, loans, opening accounts, renting an apartment, taking out a cell phone contract, or purchasing a car or a home in a victims name.

Consumers can be liable for considerable expense: "This type of crime can have major financial ramifications for victims, he said. The average discovery time of identity theft is over 14 months and people whose identities have been stolen often spend many more months and thousands of rands reinstating their good name and credit record." It is not only about someone illegally accessing your accounts or making purchases in your name.

Cre8 has developed a number of variations to the basic Identity Theft Product; Imperson8 and believes that it should become an integral part of every persons personal insurance package. Identity Theft arises in many spheres of life. As it becomes easier to communicate, to travel, to bank, to obtain information and to transact, so the risks of identity theft increase. 

"Our customers face new and very personal risks associated with impersonation and identity theft. Our specialist research team sought to develop something to help the many South Africans vulnerable to this type of crime.

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