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Early Warning – Stolen Identity

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Imagine trying to prove who you are, when your identity has been stolen by someone else.

Ok, let’s put it into perspective. You have a bank account, and in that bank account, you have several hundreds of thousands of rands. The bank has decided that they have to “freeze” your account because you are not “FICA” compliant and now you have to prove who you are all over again. The problem is though, someone has stolen your identity and the identity number that you have, have always had and should always have, now belongs to someone else, so the bank won’t allow you access to your own funds, you cannot open a new bank account – in fact, your driver’s license is also affected and you cannot get a new passport either. Gives everything a completely different slant now, doesn’t it?

A recent report in the newspaper tells of a disabled woman who is living on handouts because her identity has been stolen and she cannot access the disability grant that she is entitled to because of this.

In this instance, this poor woman, has no income and because of her disability is not able to work to provide herself with an income and whilst she is destitute, hungry and cold, someone else is cashing in on her grants. The authorities appear to know all about it, but have done nothing – a case of fraud has been opened, but nothing has happened and she in the meantime has lost her right to a dignified life.

So here’s the thing, don’t give your identity number to just anyone, in fact, don’t give out any of your details to just anyone. If you call a bank or somewhere where they need to identify who you are, then that is fine – you have made the call to the relevant institution – but if someone calls you, telling you that they are from the bank or the insurance institution or MTN or Vodacom or Cell C or whoever, you are not obliged to give them any information at all – not over the phone and not when you have not made the call.

Never, ever give your pin number out to anyone – not even a bank official, if you are having a problem give them everything that they need until it is time to enter the pin number – this you must do whilst they have their backs turned to you.

Never ever give anyone your credit card and/or ID details online unless it is a secure site. A secure site will always have a little “lock” in the corner of the screen. The little lock in the corner is put there by the credit card merchant only.

Take care of your identity and report anything that may be suspicious. All of the banks have a “fraud division”. Always get a reference number when making a complaint so that you can follow it up.

Be careful out there people, the world is a dangerous place!