From phishing scams to unprecedented access to bank cards and public records – identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in South Africa today. With thousands of individuals desperate to gain employment or credit by whatever means possible, identity theft has given rise to a number of syndicates that are dedicated to providing criminals with someone else’s identity.
iFacts is pleased to announce that it has recently partnered with ThisIsMe, South Africa’s first online ID verification system 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 has been with South Africa’s major credit bureaus,” says Jenny Reid, CEO of iFacts. “However, one of the shortcomings of this process is the fact that approximately five million (Statistics SA’s 2014 mid–year report) South Africans currently have no credit history,” she says.
“What this effectively means is that even though an individual may show a negative, or rather unverifiable result from a credit bureau search, this 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 almost 20 000 identification checks, predominantly for employers in the private security industry, using South Africa’s major credit bureaus, of which 22% of these checks had a negative result. iFacts says that a negative result does not automatically mean that the individual provided a fake ID number. It may simply mean that the individual could not be verified because they do not have a credit history.
Reid says that individuals who are credit invisible find it more difficult to rent accommodation, purchase a home or car, obtain insurance, get a credit card, obtain a student loan or even gain employment. “Just because a person is not listed with the credit bureaus, we cannot simply assume that they are a criminal,” she says. “Many job seekers are simply very young individuals who have not yet has 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 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 PoPi Compliant manner. Secondly it provides a secure service to proactive individuals who wish to have their own identification positively verified as well.
“Protecting oneself by taking ownership of one’s identity is a trend that is fast becoming a necessity,” says Mark Chirnside, CEO of ThisIsMe, which launched in South Africa over a year ago.”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; every interaction between a third party and the user is logged; only your status is open to a third party, but that is logged and every approval can be revoked.”
ThisIsMe works closely with the Department of Home Affairs, which has introduced an online Identity Document (ID) verification system to crack down on fraudulent documentation. With real-time access to the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS), banks, financial services providers and identity verification agencies can accurately and positively identify prospective clients, suppliers and employees.
Foreign nationals who are desperate for employments that requires the presentation of an ID, poverty that leads to ID theft for social grants, criminals trying to escape prosecution, and those in need of medical insurance and even life insurance forgery. “It’s so easily done and in such high demand, that identity theft 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.