Cellphone stolen? What you must do immediately to prevent fraud

By Martin Hesse Time of article published Sep 18, 2021

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More and more South Africans are doing their banking on their cellphones. Criminals are aware of this, and reports from the South African Police Service suggest that they often force their victims to tell them their online banking password before making off with the phone.

This will give the criminals access to your bank account, but will also increase the risk that they use your identity to set up credit accounts in your name, in what is known as identity theft.

So, what happens when your phone is stolen? Who must you inform of the theft besides reporting it to the police?

The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) approached a number of banks with this question and arrived at the following steps you should follow:

• Contact your bank immediately. The device needs to be delinked from your banking profile as soon as possible. This is critically important.

• The next step is to change your password or sure phrase (the phrase that allows you to access your account). You can then add further protection through an extra layer of encryption.

• Once your account is secured, you should notify your cellphone service provider to block the SIM and the IMEI number of the stolen device.

• Contact the SAFPS, which will help you in preventing the criminals from stealing your identity.

Manie van Schalkwyk, the chief executive of SAFPS, says: “Taking these actions is critical in preventing identity fraud, which is a common crime in South Africa. However, criminals act quickly. The SAFPS can offer key assistance to victims of these crimes.”

Victim Fraud Registration

Through Fraud Victim Registration, the SAFPS assists applicants in preventing fraud that is a result of identity theft and impersonation. The SAFPS will issue you with a Victim of Impersonation Letter, which you can share with credit providers to help them to verify your identity.

Protective Registration

But you don’t need to wait until you become the victim of a crime. You can proactively protect yourself through SAFPS’s Protective Registration. This is a free service protecting you against future identity fraud. Once you have registered, SAFPS alerts its members (such as credit providers and retailers) to take additional care when dealing with your personal information. Protective Registration provides an added layer of protection and peace of mind regardless of whether your identity has been compromised or not.

Prevention measures

There are a number of other steps you can take to prevent the crime in the first place, Van Schalkwyk says.

“Be aware of your surroundings. If you are sitting in an outdoor café or restaurant, you must be aware, that if your phone gets stolen, the thief can make an easy get-away. Try to use your phone discreetly. In addition, be very wary of public Wi-Fi networks, as they are unsecured.

“If you want to become proactive in the fight against fraud, the SAFPS is there to serve you. Visit our website on www.safps.org.za. Click on the fraud prevention tab and protect yourself against identity theft with Protective Registration. For best results, use your smart phone to go to our website. Once you have uploaded key pieces of information, you will add another layer of protection against potential ID fraud,” he says.


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