Identity theft in SA has become one of the largest major concerns, especially in an economy that bases so much on credit. The surprising factor is that even those that feel they have done everything to protect themselves, may find their identity stolen and they are swept into a world of chaos and doubt. The key aspect in this crime is to act fast and stop the perpetrators at every turn. This is part 1 of a 2-part series and you should read everything carefully in both articles.
Databases are being hacked and you may never know how your information was stolen. This type of crime is happening around the globe. The criminals that have stolen your identity know they have a limited amount of time to accomplish applications for credit cards and then they move on to the next person. There are critical steps to take and while it does involve your time, you can take action to curtail the damage. These actions need to be taken immediately. If you are a company, you will want to contact a security specialist that can work with you to stop illegal charges and information.
1} If you find out your identity is stolen, begin to keep records of everyone that you talk to, including dates and times. This will be important for a police report. Place this information in a folder and keep adding as you get new/updated data. Understand that the entire process can take anywhere from four to eight weeks and speed is of the essence. Don’t rely solely on online contacts, this will create delays. Instead, plan on making personal phone calls.
2} Request copies of your credit reports from all three reporting bureaus via their fraud alert departments. This will give you a beginning list of all credit applications that have been illegally made in your name. Review the documents carefully as the criminals may have added new phone numbers and addresses in your personal information area.
3} Contact all of the organisations and companies that have had applications in your name and report that this is fraud. Almost all companies have a dedicated ‘fraud department’ that will get you to the right people rather quickly. Important: During your conversation, request that they remove the credit inquiry from your credit reports. The removal will help to return your personal or business credit score to pre-theft status. Don’t be alarmed that the credit card companies cannot give you any details on the names, etc. of the criminals.
4} Take copies of all of the information you have gathered with you and report the identity theft to the police department. They will give you a case number that you can use for the next step. Understand that it may take a few days before a representative of law enforcement is assigned. Once you have a case number, report it to the ‘Information Regulator’ in your area of SA.
5} Contact the fraud departments of all three credit reporting agencies: Transunion, Compuscan and Experian South Africa, and request a ninety-day fraud alert for your accounts. At this time, request that all illegal personal information, such as bogus phone numbers and addresses be removed. They will often request the police case number that you were given. They may also request that you give alternative identification validation methods so that you can thwart the criminals from contacting them and making additional changes. Require that they give you online and printed access to your updated credit reports as the criminals may still be requesting credit in your name. As you receive the updated copies, review them and contact any new companies on the list to report the fraud. Identity theft can destroy you.
“The team at Da Vinci Forensics specialise in cybersecurity. We can work with individuals as well as companies to assist in the directions that they may need to take to deter and stop identity theft thereby reducing the cost in time and reputation due to these illegal activities.”