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Are we helpless when it comes to fighting fraud?

You are sitting in your lounge, watching television after a normal day at the office. Not thinking about anything serious, like fraud. Mind switched off and quietly enjoying your ‘nothing box’… you know the one where you are really thinking about nothing, just being.

Your mobile rings and when you answer, you are asked a very strange question. ‘Hi mam, I am sorry to bother you after hours, but I wanted to ask if you are currently in our store shopping for clothes?’

Your first thought is, what a weird, but interesting way to start a telesales call, but you are intrigued and nonchalantly answer “no, why?”

That is when the observant store clerk drops a bomb on you. “Because there is lady in our store who claims to be you. She took out a line of credit yesterday and instantly bought over five thousand rands worth of clothes. I thought it was strange that she came back again today and has yet another basket filled to the brim. I decided to call the number she provided as on the application”.

First reaction: 

“What the F#$%!?”, is this a joke? Then reality sets in. You remember the news about data breaches. The increase in spam emails and texts and now this. Your mind swirls and you cannot remember what the various articles said you must do. Fear sets in, and you then hear the lady saying: “Mam, are you still there?”

Second reaction: 

“Please stop the lady and call the police, this woman is impersonating me and she is using my identity to steal!” You hear the frustration in the store clerk’s voice as she explains that they are unable to go to this extent. They will call security to escort the lady out and will report the credit line and incident to Head Office as fraudulent.

Your nothing box has just been replaced with a basket of mixed emotions. It includes anger, frustration, appreciation for the clerk, but a sense of total helplessness… for you and for her. This results in a trip to the police station to make an affidavit to send to the retailer, a guaranteed sleepless night or two and the need to figure out what else to do.

The sad reality of fraud. 

Sadly, this is a reality that happens more often than you think. At the recent SAFPS sector events, the various industry verticals shared the trends that they are experiencing and also shared their frustrations. The operative word here being that they share. Not trade secrets, not information, but the modus operandi that they are experiencing… or have experienced in the past. They often brain storm potential solutions, or better yet… identity protection solutions that they have implemented that worked.

The point here is that companies are frustrated too, quite often their staff are targeted by syndicates, and report this to leadership. Fraudsters are relentless and quite frankly, they have no shame when it comes to using your information. The above scenario sounds like fiction, but it’s actually not. This was an account of my own experience in 2018 and the retailer cleared the fraudulent amount off my name. Fortunately I could share my Protective Registration reference number with them shortly thereafter, which assisted the resolution.

If you are a company and you are required to ensure that your customer is who they claim to be, then please do what is right and lean into technology to biometrically verify each individual. It takes seconds and it is affordable, it also prevents time lost to the admin of mopping up fraudulent transactions later.

If you are a consumer and you want to do everything you can to protect yourself, do the following:

  1. Register for a protective registration at www.safps.org.za it is at no cost to you, but not doing it can be quite costly.
  2. If you apply for accounts, upgrades or anything where you need to identify yourself and the company doesn’t ask you for that reference number, complain. As much as companies are victims too, there are steps that they need to implement to close the gaps that fraudsters exploit.
  3. Start demanding that companies verify you biometrically when they need to identify you. Use your face, voice and fingerprint instead of certified copies of your id or just answering questions about information that is probably in the hands of fraudsters too.
  4. Stay alert, don’t trust every message or email that you get. If you are called by a service provider, ask for a reference number and then call them back on their official line. It is your right to ensure you are speaking to the true representative of the company.

Arm yourself with knowledge, contact us now and get involved in closing the gap between businesses and citizens to #LeaveNoSpaceForFraud.

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Picture of Dalene Deale

Dalene Deale

Dalene Deale brings extensive experience in the financial sector, having held a variety of roles in business analysis, process engineering, corporate acquisition and fintech management. Using her passion, knowledge and expertise, Dalene previously oversaw TransUnion’s FinTech strategy, assisting them throughout their various stages of growth. Now, as the Executive head at Secure Citizen, her passion and driving force is to “empower every African with a secure, digital identity.”

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