According to credit fraud statistics, credit fraud and identity theft are on the increase in South Africa. Losses due to defaulting on payments far exceed those caused by fraud. However, if credit fraud or identity theft happens to you, it can be overwhelming. Victims may be protected financially, but they are forced to experience major inconvenience. Ultimately, we all pay for credit card fraud in terms of higher prices, higher interest rates, and extra inconvenience. In essence, you should never say that it will never happen to you. However, there are certainly more groups of people that are more susceptible to credit fraud. How you interact on social networks, use your mobile device and pay for things can make you more susceptible to identity theft. “We have a society that is so conditioned to share information that it can get into the wrong hands and wreak havoc on our identities,” says Joe Mason, senior vice president of Intersections Inc., a provider of identity protection services.
Social media users are at the mercy of ID fraudsters. You wouldn’t think of posting your bank account information on a social network. The same kind of privacy should apply to the other key bits of your identity. To protect yourself, be guarded about what you reveal about yourself and your family, and think about who will be reading your updates, comments and tweets.
We all stopped carrying cash as a means of protecting ourselves, but the plastic cards that we cling to are also making us victims. Not only does a stolen credit or debit card put you at risk of losing valuable money, it also puts you at risk of identity theft. Having your card in their possession gives them access to vital information about yourself. Try to avoid relying on debit cards. They don’t have the extra layers of fraud protection you get with credit cards. Avoid making small and frequent purchases. Do not store a written-down PIN next to the card and never carry around too many cards.
We also need to be just as cautious when it comes to something else we keep on our personal possession at all times – your cellphone. Only about one-third of people actually put a password on their phone and nearly every person stores sensitive financial information on their phone. Many smartphone users also don’t give a second thought to using public wireless hot spots. Sometimes those are set up by criminals who use free Wi-Fi to capture sensitive data and hack into mobile devices. Techco provides a list of useful apps that people can install on their phone. These apps can protect you from identity theft. Greenbot suggests some essential apps to install on your phone that will actually secure it if and when it gets stolen.