A VICTIM of identity fraud found out someone using his identity number was opening accounts and taking out loans.

“This almost destroyed me.

“I was told I have a R25 000 loan and another R30 000 debt at a clothing store. Thank God camera footage proved my innocence and my name was cleared,” the victim said.

He remembered his car was broken into and his laptop bag with his ID book was stolen.

This is called identity theft and the thief was traced and arrested after three years.

TransUnion senior director of consumer business Garnet Jensen told SunMoney you should not ignore transactions on your bank statements that you can’t explain.

Also receiving credit cards or statements for accounts you never applied for could mean you are a target of identity theft.

Jensen said one should act quickly to limit the damage. He said according to their research, identity theft is rife in Mzansi, with many people having fallen victim to identity theft, or knowing someone who has.

“Victims typically only find out about the theft months later, by which time someone could easily have obtained false lines of credit and racked up lots of debt in their name,” Jensen said.

Targets include retail accounts, cellphone contracts and bank accounts.

ID thieves also block employment or credit applications and use the documents to steal identities.

If you think someone has stolen your identity, you need to take certain steps.

• Immediately report it to the police and the company, bank or institution where the fraud took place. For insurance, for fraud, call your insurance company to let them know your identity has been stolen. Also contact the SA Fraud Prevention Services to register.

• Make sure you close your bank accounts and the accounts opened by the thief. Get new accounts and PINs.

• Change your login and passwords for all your online accounts, not just the affected ones. One of the best identity protection habits is to change your email and online passwords regularly.

• Check your credit report regularly for signs that someone may have stolen your identity. You can review your report for signs of suspicious activity, like accounts you don’t know.

“Reclaiming your identity and cleaning up your record is a long process. Keep your information safe and manage the recovery process if your information is in danger,” Jensen said.

  • Visit www.transunion.co.za/assistance/free-credit-report