Are you an identity theft victim? If you have been a victim of identity theft, you will know how frustrating and difficult it is to protect yourself. You don’t know who has stolen your identity. And you have no idea what they are going to try to do using your identity. This makes it very difficult for you to try and protect yourself and reclaim your identity. Having your identity stolen can have serious consequences for you. It is important that you take steps as soon as possible to try to protect your identity. Here is a list of the steps you can take if you have been a victim of identity theft. Take them as soon as possible.
Record in writing any communications (like telephone calls, emails, letters) you make as you work through the process of resolving the theft of your identity. Include dates and times. Ask banks or retailers where the thief has tried to use your identity for copies of documents the thief used, including application forms. Evidence may help you or the police to track down the thief.
Report it to the police
Report the matter and open an identity theft case with the South African Police Service (SAPS). You need to go to your local police station and start there. South Africa prosecutes the offence in terms of the common law. A person guilty of identity theft may be found guilty of fraud, forgery and uttering a forged document, depending on the circumstances of your case.
- Give them as much evidence as possible.
- Give an affidavit.
- Ask the police to list the fraudulent accounts on the report.
- Get a copy of the report. Credit card companies and banks may require you to show the report in order to verify the crime.
- Keep the name and phone number of the police officer handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
- Make sure you get a report or case number.
Hire a private investigator
If you want to find out more about who the thief is or how they got your personal information and the police are not making progress, you might decide to hire a private investigator.
Report it to the Information Regulator
When the Information Regulator in South Africa has been established you should report the crime to the Information Regulator and give them the case number.
Contact the credit bureaus
Tell the fraud units of all credit bureaus what has happened and they will put an alert on your credit profile. Give them the affidavit and the case number. You only need to contact one of them.
Subscribe to a credit alert service provided by TransUnion, Experian, and Compuscan. When anyone applies for credit from any credit or service provider, an enquiry on that person’s credit report is made at a credit bureau. The credit bureau can alert you by email or SMS that an enquiry has been made. If it wasn’t you, the alert will warn you that something is amiss.
Credit and service providers
Next, contact all the credit and service providers listed on your credit report and inform them of what has transpired in writing, providing them with the SAPS case number. Be aware, however, that it can take months to restore your credit reputation. Until that happens, you may not be able to qualify for the credit you may need.
Change bank accounts
Consider closing your existing bank accounts, and get new accounts and PIN numbers. At very least change the passwords and PINs for existing accounts. Definitely close any accounts the thief opened.
Change car registration number
If the thief is using number plates that have the registration number of your car on them, you may decide to:
Renew your drivers licence
If the thief is using your drivers licence, you can renew your drivers licence. When you renew it, the picture will change and it will get a new licence number. The thief will then have an old one. You have to renew your licence every five years in any case.
Alert the Fraud Prevention Services
Alert the South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) immediately on 0860 101 248 or on their website to list the identity theft on their database in order to prevent further credit from being granted in your name. They offer a free protective registration service.
Take legal action against the thief for damages
If you manage to find out who the criminal is, you might be able to sue them for damages.
Improve your physical security
If the thief knows your physical residential or work address, you should make sure you have good security.
Hold the person who failed to protect your personal information responsible
If you know who failed to protect your personal information, you should hold them responsible. This may include suing them for the damages you have suffered. Another way of holding them responsible is through the media. If the information the thief has is the same as the information you gave to a company, the chances are that it was that company that failed to protect your personal information.
Information rights complaint
If you want to complain that someone or an organisation infringed your information rights, you can do so here.
Seek legal advice if necessary. We are here to help.
More information for an Identity Theft Victim
You can read more about identity theft at wikipedia or the Federal Trade Commission in the United States. You can also learn more about the issue from CompariTech by reading more about it or by completing their quiz.