What is Identity Theft and Why is it Dangerous?

What is Identity Theft and Why is it Dangerous?

Identity theft is one of the fastest developing type crimes in the world: specialists believe that a person’s identity is stolen every 2 seconds around the world.

Identity theft occurs when a thief gains access to the personal information of a person online such as their credit card information, passwords, medical insurance numbers, ID number/cards. The thief uses this information for their own economic gain.

As indicated by TransUnion, South Africa’s biggest credit authority, since identity theft is not easily detectable like other types of crimes, it can go unidentified for a considerable a long time, even years while victims have huge debts build-up under their names.

Something that is not often spoken about is the identity theft of children. Because children have clean credit records, criminals take advantage of this by using children’s identities to carry on their malicious acts. That is why we advise parents to stop oversharing identities of their children at all costs.

How can you identify that you are a victim of Identity Theft?

  • If you frequently receive notifications about a payment that you missed on something that you do not own or have knowledge of
  • Receiving calls that are not familiar to you and you are being questioned about an instalment that did not go through
  • Missing money in your bank account
  • Being denied loan, mortgages, and employment applications due to a bad credit score
  • Being unable to do open bank accounts

What implications can Identity Theft have on your life?

Medical identity theft is another way of identity theft crime. If you become a victim of this type of crime you might be faced with problems when it comes to medical services:

  • You can have trouble obtaining a medical prescription because someone else might be using your name to get prescriptions
  • A medical error might be made due to medical misinformation that is in connection with your name
  • Getting this resolved might take time which might also have a negative effect on your health

How you can avoid Identity Theft

  • Create strong passwords. Learn how to create a strong password here.
  • Be careful and limit personal information that you share online (full name, date of birth, phone numbers)
  • Protect your wallet/bag especially in public spaces
  • Protect your cellphone and avoid using public WIFI spots that you don’t trust
  • Frequently check your medical and financial statements for any information that might not be familiar to you

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