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Crime and Fraud
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Impersonation scourge

The victim watching helplessly as funds are drained from his bank account or who finds out he is ‘married’ to someone he doesn’t know, or who receives traffic fines in locations he’s never even heard of will receive scant comfort from the fact that increasing numbers of consumers are facing similar impudence on a daily basis.

It’s all about identity theft and it has become the fastest growing type of financial fraud in the world.
Comments Peter Olyott, head of Cre8, the research and development division of Alexander Forbes Risk and Insurance Services, “In the US it’s one of the top-ten consumer fraud complaints with losses reaching billions of dollars.
“In South Africa this scourge is becoming increasingly sophisticated with hackers accessing personal details of their victims over the Internet. Often fraud is detected only if a customer reviews his credit card statement or needs to travel outside the country and finds his passport is missing. With cellphone banking on the rise, concomitant risk rises exponentially.”
Identity theft and fraud refers to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully uses an individual’s personal information to represent themselves as the individual for fraudulent purposes, for example, obtaining a credit card, loans, opening accounts, renting an apartment, taking out a cell phone contract, or purchasing a car or a home in a victim’s name.
Consumers can be liable for considerable expense: “This type of crime can have major financial ramifications for victims,” he says. “The average discovery time of identity theft is as much as 14 months and victims can expect to spend many more months and thousands of rands reinstating their good name and credit record.”
Cre8 has developed a number of variations of the basic Identity Theft insurance policy, Imperson8, and believes that it should become an integral part of everyone’s personal insurances. Identity Theft arises in many spheres of life. As it becomes easier to communicate, to travel, to bank, to obtain information and to transact, so the risks rise exponentially.
“Our customers face new and very personal risks associated with impersonation and identity theft. Our specialist research team sought to develop something to help the many South Africans vulnerable to this type of crime.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.1 1st February, 2007
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