Community Environment News

Protect your personal information from fraudsters

News Desk

Experian – a consumer, business and credit information services agency – has experienced a breach of data which has exposed some personal information of as many as 24 million South Africans and 793 749 business entities to a suspected fraudster.

Experian has confirmed that the breach has been reported to law enforcement and the appropriate regulatory authorities. Banks have been working with Experian and SABRIC to identify which of their customers may have been exposed to the breach and to protect their personal information, even as the investigation unfolds. Banks and SABRIC have also been cooperating with Experian in their efforts to secure the data and ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.

South African banks take the security of their customer data very seriously and have put in place robust risk mitigation strategies to detect potential fraud on accounts and protect their customers. Banks will communicate with their customers about how they may be affected by the breach and what is being done to protect them.

“The compromise of personal information can create opportunities for criminals to impersonate you but does not guarantee access to your banking profile or accounts. However, criminals can use this information to trick you into disclosing your confidential banking details,” says SABRIC CEO, Nischal Mewalall.

Should you suspect that your identity has been compromised, apply immediately for free identity protection with the Southern African Fraud Preventions Services (SAFPS). This service alerts SAFPS members, which includes banks and credit providers that your identity has been compromised and that additional care needs to be taken to confirm that they are transacting with the legitimate identity holder. Consumers wanting to apply for additional protection can contact SAFPS at protection@safps.org.za, or SMS the word “Protectid” to 43366. They will then make contact with you.

SABRIC and SAFPS urge bank customers and other consumers to follow sound identity management practices to mitigate the risk of impersonation and fraudulent applications in your name. “Think of your identity information in the same way as you think of cash.” explains Manie van Schalkwyk, SAFPS CEO, “Keep it safe and secure at all times, because once it is compromised, it can be used by anybody, often to impersonate you.”

It is also recommended that bank customers follow precautionary measures, including:

Do not disclose personal information such as passwords and PINs when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax, text messages or even email.

Change your password regularly and never share them with anyone else.

Verify all requests for personal information and only provide it when there is a legitimate reason to do so.

For further advice, please see safps.org.za

SAFPS is a Non-Profit Organisation which believes that through collaboration, increased awareness and innovative solutions, the losses experienced as a result of fraud and financial crime can be curbed. Alongside some of the largest and most trusted brands in Africa, SAFPS combats fraud through a centralised fraud repository. By maintaining and providing a powerful fraud database, we assist our members in detecting and preventing fraudulent activity. We also protect consumers against identity theft and impersonation. This includes the provision of free Protective Registration for all consumers who have experienced identity fraud, ID/Passport theft or have had their identity compromised, to protect them against further losses. For more on SAFPS, visit www.safps.org.za

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