‘Identity thieves raid bins for info’
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.