The shocking statistics speak for themselves. Identity (ID) theft and fraud has become one of the fastest growing crimes in South Africa today.
Besides the untold personal misery, it has caused for thousands of individual South African’s who’ve had their identities stolen, their credit histories destroyed, or even found themselves married to individuals they have never met, experts believe that the cost to South Africa’s economy may be as much as R2 billion per year.
So why has ID theft become such a massive problem in South Africa? Fraud and crime prevention experts believe that South African individuals are still far too relaxed about taking special precautions to protect their personal information.
Some areas of concern that leave individuals vulnerable to ID theft include: making online transactions on dubious websites that ask for ID information or credit card details, not examining banking statements properly, not adequately safeguarding passwords and ID numbers, not shredding receipts and statements before discarding them, and giving out personal information over the phone to individuals who may be posing as representatives from an individual’s bank.
Another alarming challenge that has been identified is the influx of foreign nationals through South African borders. Desperate individuals who face unbearable economic and political circumstances in their own countries have identified South Africa as a potential safe haven but still face a barrage of challenges in trying to start a new life here, including xenophobic attacks and the inability to find employment. With that in mind, many turn to the help of corrupt officials working within home affairs to assist them in getting a local identification. Armed with a South African identity, an individual who is desperate for employment stands a better chance of being considered.
Be that as it may, the rise in ID theft and fraud is presenting a barrage of detrimental consequences for the local economy and businesses. This challenge has seen business owners and HR professionals become more thorough during the pre-employment process, making ID verification part and parcel of the recruitment process.
As an employer or HR Professional, you are well advised, and well within your legal rights to verify the identity of any job seekers applying for employment within your organisation, provided that the individual has agreed in writing to this verification process being carried out.
Identity Theft By Numbers: