Identity Crisis - SA Franchise Warehouse

24 April 2015


It is time to face the reality that identity theft is a thriving business.
Scores of South Africans woke up to this disturbing reality when the British High Commission contacted them with the news that their UK visa applications, together with all supporting documentation, was stolen when the courier van transporting these documents to the airport was hijacked.
While these individuals must deal with the inconvenience of applying for new passports, there's a far more sinister issue at play. When applying for a Visa, applicants are required to include original copies of their most personal documentation; this includes everything from marriage certificates, to bank statements and their home addresses. In the wrong hands this type of information could create complete chaos for those people affected — a terrifying prospect indeed.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today and has given rise to hundreds of criminal syndicates who know exactly how to use other people's personal information for their financial gain. This could include hacking into your bank accounts, running up thousands of Rands in credit in your name, selling your identity to others and even faking a marriage to an illegal foreigner — all this combined with access to your home address.
While it's unclear whether the hijackers were specifically targeting the High Commission's documents or if they were aware of other high value items in the vehicle, is not yet known, but forewarned is forearmed.
iFacts is pleased to announce that it has recently partnered with ThisIsMe in order to strengthen its individual verification service offering for South African employers. "Traditionally the quickest, most direct and relatively accurate way to verify someone's personal identification was through South Africa's major credit bureaus. However, one of the shortcomings of this process is the fact that approximately 5-million (Statistics SA's 2014 mid—year report) South Africans currently have no credit history," says Jenny Reid, CEO of iFacts. "What this effectively means is that even though an individual may show a 'negative', or rather unverifiable result from a credit bureau search, it does not automatically mean that this person is not who they say they are. It might simply mean that they do not have a credit history."
Over the past year iFacts has completed 19,865 identification checks, predominantly for employers in the private security industry. 470 Of these checks returned a negative result on the credit bureau search. Reid says that individuals who are credit invisible find it more difficult to rent accommodation, purchase a home or car, obtain insurance, qualify for a credit card or student loan or even gain employment. "We cannot assume someone is a criminal simply because they are not listed with the credit bureaus," she says. "Many job seekers are simply very young individuals who have not yet had the opportunity to build up a credit history," she added. "Therefore there's been a critical gap in the market for a service that could provide accurate identity verification."
ThisIsMe was launched in South Africa over a year ago and provides a verification service with the aim of removing the complication from compliance. It offers a service to merchants and organisations who wish to positively verify the identification of customers, suppliers and employees in a PoPI compliant manner. It also provides a secure service to proactive individuals who wish to have their own identification positively verified. "Protecting oneself by taking ownership of one's identity is a trend that is fast becoming a necessity," says Mark Chirnside, CEO of ThisIsMe. "With the evolution of identity, end-user controlled identity management is imperative to the future of online persona control," he added. "When signing up with ThisIsMe, every interaction between a third party and the user is user-approved and logged; only your status is open to a third party, but that is logged and every approval can be revoked."
Identity theft has unfortunately become a terrifying reality and should your information somehow land in the wrong hands it can take years to repair you financial reputation. Don't hesitate to take proactive steps to protect yourself against this type of crime. It's never too late to take control of the situation. "Identity theft is so easily accomplished and in such high demand, that it has become the white collar crime of choice," says Reid. "While we understand where it comes from, our job remains to help our clients separate the good from the bad, and to keep their organisations clear of fraudsters," she concluded. 

To take control of your identity with a verified ThisIsMe account, CLICK HERE.
Back to Blogs