‘Iden­tity thieves raid bins for info’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - THABISO THAKALI

BANKS, re­tail­ers, cell­phone stores and travel agents throw clients’ doc­u­ments with sen­si­tive per­sonal in­for­ma­tion into rub­bish bins at shop­ping malls – giv­ing fraud­sters all they need to steal iden­ti­ties.

The rev­e­la­tion comes as leg­is­la­tion that will pro­vide con­sumers with re­course – the Pro­tec­tion of Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Bill – is wait­ing to be signed into law.

With the ap­point­ment of an in­de­pen­dent in­for­ma­tion reg­u­la­tor, con­sumers will have ac­cess to a body which will deal with com­plaints about han­dling and pro­cess­ing of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and im­pose sanc­tions.

Spe­cial­ist fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tor Dun­can Waugh said the type of in­for­ma­tion he had found in bins in­cluded a con­fi­den­tial af­fi­davit to con­firm ad­dress with de­tails of a home­owner, his ID num­ber and sig­na­ture, along with cer­ti­fied copies of the client’s ID.

He also found full de­tails of an ex­ter­nal trans­fer of R400 000, with signed in­struc­tion forms, copies of the sen­der’s ID, proof of ad­dress and the re­cip­i­ent’s full de­tails.

The in­for­ma­tion, he said, was enough for fraud­sters to open bank ac­counts, buy goods, il­le­gally ap­ply for credit or ac­cess med­i­cal aids.

“It’s phe­nom­e­nal what you can find in the bins,” he said. “De­pend­ing on what day of the week, time or place, you can get a lot more. All the ID thief or a fraud­ster has to do is look in the trash or re­cy­cle bin.”

He be­lieves this is be­hind South Africa’s iden­tity theft prob­lem.

“The big cor­po­rates are putting their cus­tomers at risk in di­rect vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion’s right to pri­vacy.”

Carol McLough­lin, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at South­ern African Fraud Preven­tion Ser­vice (SAFPS), said 11 203 peo­ple were recorded as vic­tims of im­per­son­ation or iden­tity theft on their data­base.

“Th­ese are only the in­di­vid­u­als who are aware that they are vic­tims and have con­tacted the SAFPS to ap­ply for pro­tec­tion of their ID,” she said.

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