• Identity Theft has become a major problem worldwide. Unfortunately, Law Enforcement Agencies are swamped with everyday street crime and do not have the time to dedicate 100% of their time locating the person who may have stolen your Identity.

    If you think you are a victim of Identity Theft, or if you know you are a victim of identity theft, Rick Crouch & Associates can help you in a number of ways, including but not limited to locating the person using your identity.

    If you think you are a victim of Identity Theft and would like our assistance please call us at 0861 000-282.

    What is identity theft?

    Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, ID number, bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes.

    How can someone steal my identity?

    Identity thieves may use a variety of low- and high-tech methods to gain access to your personally-identifying information. For example:

    They get information from businesses or institutions by:

    • Stealing records from their employer
    • Bribing an employee who has access to the records
    • Conning information out of employees
    • Hacking into the organization's computers.
    • They rummage through your trash, the trash of businesses, or dumps in a practice known as "dumpster diving."
    • They obtain credit reports by abusing their employer's authorized access to credit reports
    • Posing as a landlord, employer or someone else who may have a legitimate need for and a legal right to the information.
    • They steal credit and debit card account numbers as your card is processed by a practice known as "skimming."
    • They steal wallets and purses containing identification and credit and bank cards.
    • They steal mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information.
    • They complete a "change of address form" to divert mail to another location.
    • They steal personal information from your home.
    • They scam information from you by posing as a legitimate business person or government official.

    What are the consequences of identity theft?

    Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may:

    • Go on spending sprees using your credit and debit card account numbers to buy "big-ticket" items that they can easily sell.
    • Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and ID number.
    • When they don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
    • Change the mailing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on the account.
    • Take out auto loans in your name.
    • Establish a phone or wireless service in your name.
    • Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
    • Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
    • File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred, or to avoid eviction.
    • Give your name to the police during an arrest.
    • If they are released and don't show up for their court date, an arrest warrant could be issued in your name.

    How long can identity theft problems go on?

    It's difficult to predict how long the effects of identity theft may linger. That's because it depends on many factors including the type of theft, whether the thief sold or passed your information on to other thieves, whether the thief is caught and problems related to correcting your credit report.

    Victims of identity theft should monitor their credit reports and other financial records for several months after they discover the crime. Credit reports should be checked once every three months in the first year of the theft, and once a year thereafter. Keep alert for other signs of identity theft. See How can I tell if I'm a victim of identity theft?

    Victims should not delay in correcting their records and contacting all companies that opened fraudulent accounts. The longer the inaccurate information goes uncorrected, the longer it will take to resolve the problem.

    How can I tell if I'm a victim of identity theft?

    • Monitor the balances of your financial accounts. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
    • Failing to receive bills or other mail, which may signal an address change by the identity thief
    • Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply for.
    • Being denied credit for no apparent reason.
    • Receiving calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you did not buy.

    Although many of these indications could be a result of a simple error, you should not assume that there's been a mistake and do nothing. Always follow up with the business or institution to find out.

    What should I look for on a credit report to indicate identity theft?

    Check your credit reports carefully to make sure the information is accurate. Look for inquiries you didn't initiate, accounts you didn't open and unexplained debts on your legitimate accounts. Check that information like your ID number; address(es); name and any variations, including initials, Jr., Sr., etc.; and employers are correct. Inaccuracies in this information may also be due to typographical errors. Nevertheless, whether the inaccuracies are due to fraud or error, notify the credit bureau as soon as possible by telephone and in writing.

     

    What should I do if I am a Victim of Identity Theft

    Gather the Evidence

    Record in writing any communications (like telephone calls, emails, letters) you make as you work through the process of resolving the theft of your identity. Include dates and times. Ask banks or retailers where the thief has tried to use your identity for copies of documents the thief used, including application forms. Evidence may help you or the police to track down the thief.

    Report the theft of your identity to the police


    Report the matter and open an identity theft case with the South African Police Service (SAPS). You need to go to your local police station and start there. South Africa prosecutes the offence in terms of the common law. A person guilty of identity theft may be found guilty of fraud, forgery and uttering a forged document, depending on the circumstances of your case.

    • Give them as much evidence as possible.
    • Give an affidavit.
    • Ask the police to list the fraudulent accounts on the report.
    • Get a copy of the report. Credit card companies and banks may require you to show the report in order to verify the crime.
    • Keep the name and phone number of the police officer handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
    • Make sure you get a report or case number.

    Hire a private investigator

    If you want to find out more about who the thief is or how they got your personal information and the police are not making progress, you might decide to hire a private investigator.

    Report the identity theft to the Information Regulator

    You should report the crime to the Information Regulator and give them the case number.

    Contact the credit bureaus

    Tell the fraud units of all credit bureaus what has happened and they will put an alert on your credit profile. Give them the affidavit and the case number. You only need to contact one of them.

    Ensure that you have not been blacklisted due to non-payment by getting your credit report. You can get one from Experian, or TransUnion.

    Subscribe to a credit alert service provided by TransUnion and Experian. When anyone applies for credit from any credit or service provider, an enquiry on that person’s credit report is made at a credit bureau. The credit bureau can alert you by email or SMS that an enquiry has been made. If it wasn’t you, the alert will warn you that something is amiss and that your identity may have been stolen.

    Credit and service providers

    Next, contact all the credit and service providers listed on your credit report and inform them of what has transpired in writing, providing them with the SAPS case number. Be aware, however, that it can take months to restore your credit reputation. Until that happens, you may not be able to qualify for the credit you may need.

     

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