ID theft can ruin your credit rating

Picture Thinkstock

Picture Thinkstock

Identity theft is increasing, affecting South African consumers’ credit records, credit bureau Compuscan said yesterday.

“It’s concerning to see that there is an increase in identity fraud. Consumers are often unaware that they have fallen victim to such a crime and this could have a severe negative knock-on effect in their ability to obtain credit in future,” said director at Compuscan, Frank Lenisa.

The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service said that 1 370 more cases of identity theft were reported to it by the end of April 2014 as compared to the same period last year. The SAFPS estimates that incidents will exceed the 4 000 mark by the end of 2014.

Some 3 873 cses of identity theft was recorded in 2013, a 16% rise from 3 327 in 2012.

Every account that is opened and every credit transaction that takes place under a consumer’s identity is recorded on a consumer’s credit report, Lenisa said.

“Consumers often only find out that they have been a victim of impersonation when they apply for a home loan, store finance, car finance, or when their request for credit is denied,” he said.

He urged consumers to monitor their own borrowing, spending and payment trends. Compuscan’s personal online credit report portal – My Credit Check – is a useful tool for those with valid identity numbers.

If consumers find that their identity has been used fraudulently to open accounts, they should contact the credit providers that have listed them immediately. They should also request a copy of the application form used when the account was opened, lenisa advised.

The National Credit Act 34 of 2005 provides that consumers have the right to dispute any factually incorrect information on their credit report and have the information corrected.

The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service also provides free assistance to consumers who have been victims of identity fraud.

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