How to avoid identity theft

Photo: Pinterest BE AWARE: Identity theft is when someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity.

Sometimes, that happens, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Identity fraud can be one of the most inconvenient and scary types of fraud around.

This is when someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity. The main aim behind identity theft is to access resources or to obtain credit or other benefits in the victim’s name. The worst thing is that it can take months for you to find out, and it can take a long time to undo the damage to your credit reputation.

Nitesh Patel, head of Customer Financial Solutions, Personal Banking at Standard Bank suggested these tips:

How to avoid it: Shred all the documents that contain your personal information and do not throw anything away that someone else could use to impersonate you.

Make sure all your accounts have strong passwords that are not easy to decipher.

Never just respond to an e-mail or SMS that asks you to insert or update your personal and banking information by clicking on a website link provided in the content of the message. Rather copy and paste the link into your internet browser, as this will help you determine whether you are accessing an authentic website or not.

If you receive a call from an unknown individual who asks for personal information, rather offer to call them back to verify that the number they have given you actually belongs to the correct company.

Be careful with the type of information that you share on social media and make use of privacy settings.

Only carry identification documentation when it’s absolutely necessary and keep these documents safely locked away when you don’t need them.

Do not get taken in by scammers who send messages telling you that you have won a prize or inherited money.

Periodically examine your credit report to ensure that there has been no unauthorised activity in your name. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from the credit bureaux.

Ask the credit bureau to put an alert on your account if they are approached by credit providers.

If you’ve been defrauded: Report the matter to the police and the SAFPS (Southern African Fraud Prevention Service) on 0860 101 248.

“There is no doubt that it is better to prevent these unfortunate events than fix them,” stated Patel.

“By familiarising yourself with potential danger zones and staying especially cautious in crowded holiday destinations, you should be able to have fraud-free festive season.”

City Reporter

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