Guiding consumers since 2009

Are you sharing too much on social media?

By Jessica Anne Wood

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) is warning people to be more careful about the personal information that they are sharing or allowing others to see on social media platforms.
Fraudsters are now getting hold of  genuine personal information from social media platforms, such as email addresses and phone numbers and are using these details to collectively to take over customer identities.
However, new biometric verification systems with IDs makes it more difficult for criminals to present a fraudulent identity document at banks. SABRIC explained: “The role out of the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) biometric verification solution by several banks has made it difficult for criminals to commit identity fraud using tampered identity books as Banks can now verify the identity of their clients using their biometric fingerprints. Criminals are aware that they will now be detected through the HANIS verification solution should they present a tampered identity book.”
How is your identity stolen?
It is important to make sure that your identity document is safe, but you also need to ensure the safety of your other information as well. This includes things such as your driving licence, physical address, telephone numbers, email addresses, passwords, PIN’s and any other information that can uniquely identify you.
In addition to phone and email scams where fraudsters pretend to be from the bank to get information from customers, social media is another tool that is used. On social media sites such as Facebook, people often have more information than is necessary available on their profile.
“People should be very aware that personal details such as names of their children, their birthdays and their whereabouts etc., which they post on social media, could be abused by criminals”, said Kalyani Pillay, the CEO of SABRIC.
The information on your social media profiles could be used by fraudsters to get you to divulge additional information. For example, they can use your contact information on your social media page and other information you have shared to get you to tell them your bank PINs and other passwords.
“Identity theft can happen to anyone and is costly to remedy once your credit profile has been affected. This is why it is important for consumers to stay abreast of how identity fraud trends change so that they can protect themselves,” added Pillay.
How to protect yourself from identity fraud
While you might not be able to prevent yourself from falling victim to fraud completely, there are steps that you can take to help. SABRIC offers a list of tips to help you limit your risk of falling victim to identity theft:

  • Make sure that all your accounts have strong passwords that are not easy to decipher.
  • Don’t disclose personal information such as passwords and PINs when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax or even email.
  • Shred all documents that contain your personal information and do not throw away anything that someone else could use to impersonate you.
  • Avoid carrying unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse. This includes writing down your card PINs and keeping them with the card.
  • Be selective with the type of information that you share on social media sites and make use of strict privacy settings. For example, on Facebook you can set up your security settings so that only your friends can see your profile. However, to make this effective you should also only accept friend requests from people you actually know.
  • Do not get taken in by scammers who send messages telling you that you have won a prize, or inherited monies as they could be trying to defraud you.
  • Store personal and financial documents safely and always lock them away.
  • Don’t use Internet Cafes or unsecure terminals such as hotels and conference centres to do your banking.
  • Should your ID or driving licence be stolen, report it to the SAPS and the SAFPS (South African Fraud Prevention Services) immediately. To prevent your ID from being used to commit fraud, if it is ever lost or stolen, you should alert the SAFPS on 0860 101 248 or at

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