File picture: Denis Farrell

Johannesburg - Consumers with fraud risk listings under the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) are still in the dark about clearing their names as the National Credit Amendment Act left them out in the cold when it gave amnesty to other consumers.

Victims of identity theft and banking customers on whose accounts fraudulent activities took place are listed on the SAFPS. But the SAFPS, a non-profit organisation whose members include all major banks, said consumers who had suffered fraud could ask for their names to be removed.

However, this approach has not worked for one Durban businessman, Nav Chan, who discovered last year when he tried to get a protective listing with the SAFPS that he had already been on the organisation’s list for two years.

“I only discovered when I lost my green ID book last year as I was trying to put myself on the protective registration database of the SAFPS that FNB had already listed me in 2012 and Absa in 2013.”

The listings came after FNB cancelled all Chan’s business and personal accounts in June 2012 and the notice to cancel them was addressed to a Johannesburg company, not him.

FNB suspected fraud in a payslip submitted by that company for a loan application.

“I want them to at least open a financial crimes case against me so that they’ll investigate the case. They are passing the buck from one to another when I request the removal of that listing,” Chan said.

Because the SAFPS is not a registered credit bureau, it is not governed by the National Credit Act. The National Credit Amendment Act does not affect it and it is thus not required to remove the fraud-risk listings. He said because of the listing, he had not been able to access credit for his business. He said the SAFPS had referred him to the individual banks when he requested removal.

Klaas Mokaba, the deputy director of consumer law and policy at the Department of Trade and Industry, said the information kept by the SAFPS was not classified as credit bureau information as defined by the National Credit Act and therefore fell outside the realm of the legislation. “Identity theft is purely criminal and neither the department nor the National Credit Regulator (NCR) can intervene in such cases as they do not fall within their mandate,” Mokaba said.

Hannalie Crous, the head of FNB retail credit, said the legislation should not be used to hold back the financial services sector’s efforts to combat fraud.

“The aim [of the amendment] is to support the objectives of the National Credit Act. The intention is not to inhibit the prevention or identification of fraud. Consumers who believe they are victims of identity theft should approach the credit or service provider that provided the information, as well as the SAFPS with a view of resolving the issue.”

The North Gauteng High Court ordered the SAFPS to register as a credit bureau within 21 days in June 2011 after a court battle between it and the NCR. The SAFPS said it had applied to be registered and was awaiting finalisation.