Identity/Personal Information Theft

Personal Information Theft

More and more Nigerias are losing money due to fraud and other crimes. Perpetrators target their victims indiscriminately to make easy money at every opportunity. While some of these scams are easily identifiable, others are cleverly executed and require close scrutiny before they can be detected.

The theft of personal information, otherwise known as Identity Theft, is one of the leading contributors to a successful fraud. The consequences of your identity being compromised can be far-reaching and sometimes costly to remedy.

What is personal information?

Personal information includes all information that is unique to you, such as:

  • Your ID document or drivers license
  • Passport
  • Your payslip
  • Your credit card information
  • Municipality statements
  • Cheque books and bank cards
  • Banking details
  • Telephone records
  • Card PIN numbers and Internet banking passwords

What can criminals do with your personal information?

 

It can be used by criminals to assume your identity and acquire retail or bank accounts, or even defraud your insurance, medical. In some instances, they impersonate you and attend your bank and transact upon your accounts.

How to protect your personal information?

  • Do not disclose personal information over the internet or telephonically, without knowing exactly what it will be used for.
  • Be wary of entering competitions or answering surveys, as these may be scams to source your information. ‘Getting to know you’ emails are also a great source of personal information!
  • Consider what you disclose via electronic media – personal profiles on your business site, social networking, chat rooms and so on.
  • Do not carry all your identification documentation with you, unless absolutely necessary.  Generally, only one form is necessary for day to day activities, so lock the rest away securely.
  • Take care of your filing.  Documents can be stolen from your, car or office without you being aware that they are missing or have been copied.
  • Shred what you don’t want to keep.  Your rubbish bin is a great source of information so make sure your documents cannot be read by others when you dispose of them.
  • When you sell electronic devices, such as cell phones, PDA or computers, make sure that all personal information is deleted and the hard drive must be formatted before you release the item.
  • Make sure that before you hand over personal information, that it is subject to a confidentiality clause and cannot be sold or used for anything other than the specified purpose
  • Transunion ITC and the three credit bureaus in South Africa will give you a free credit report on your birthday.  Use the report to check whether institutions have been making enquiries about you, which may be an indication that your details have been used without your authorisation.What to do if you have been affected by personal information theft
  • Notify your bank, your insurance company and other entities where you currently are a client.
  • If documentation has been stolen, notify the originating party such as the Department of Home Affairs for passports and ID books and the Traffic and Licensing Department for driver’s licenses.
  • If you suspect that your mail may have been stolen, tampered with or diverted contact the post office.
  • It may be worthwhile to seek the assistance of organizations such as the E-PPAN who assist victims of ID theft (E-PPANHelp-Line number is : (+234) 19582903

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