Illustration: Colin Daniel

In the light of last week’s massive breach of South Africans’ personal information, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) encourages you to protect your personal details by sharing them selectively and on a need-to-know basis only. 

Sabric says you should distinguish between personal information and confidential information:

• Personal information includes your identity document, driver’s licence, passport, address and contact details, among other things. 

• Confidential information includes usernames, passwords and PINs, which should never be shared with anyone, Sabric says.

Everyday commercial activity makes it necessary to identify yourself by providing personal information. Good identity-management practices can assist in mitigating the risk of identity theft if the information is compromised, Sabric says.

Much of your personal information, such as your identity number and home and work addresses, cannot be changed, so Sabric recommends that you consider the following precautionary measures when required to provide information for security-verification purposes:

• Do not use information that may have been compromised. Instead use personal information you have not used previously in order to confirm your identity.

• Register a new email account.

• Implement dual authentication for accounts and products, particularly for financial services products. Also known as two-step verification, it is a security process in which you provide two authentication factors to confirm your identity.

• Register for SMS notifications to alert you when products and accounts are accessed.

• Conduct regular credit checks to verify whether someone has applied for credit using your personal information, and if so, advise the credit provider immediately.

• Investigate and register for credit-related alerts offered by credit bureaus.

• Check your bank statements regularly.

“While the compromise of personal information creates opportunities for criminals to impersonate you, it does not guarantee access to your banking profile or accounts,” says Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay. “However, the importance of never sharing confidential information in order to protect yourself cannot be over-emphasised.”


TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Sabric offers the following tips to ensure that criminals cannot access your profiles and accounts:

DON’TS:

• Don’t carry unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse.

• Don’t disclose confidential information such as passwords and PINs when asked to do so by anyone via telephone or email.

• Don’t write down PINs and passwords, and avoid obvious choices such as birth dates and first names.

• Don’t use internet cafes or unsecured wi-fi spots to do your banking.

DO’S:

• Use strong passwords for all your accounts.

• Change your passwords regularly and never share them with anyone else.

• Store personal and financial documentation safely. Always lock it away.

• Keep PINs and passwords confidential.

• Verify all requests for personal information and provide it only when there is a legitimate reason to do so.

• To prevent your identity document being used to commit fraud if it is lost or stolen, alert the South African Fraud Prevention Service on 0860 101 248 or at www.safps.org.za.

• Ensure that you have a robust firewall and instal anti-virus software to prevent a virus sending personal information from your computer.

• When destroying personal information, either shred or burn it (do not tear it up or put it in a garbage or recycling bag).

• If your identity document or driver’s licence is stolen, report it to the police immediately.