CGF Research Institute (Pty) Ltd

Do not fall victim to identity crime – CGF focus on identity theft & fraud


With the 2007 festive season in full swing, Proudly South African members would be well-advised to be vigilant of the possibility of identity theft and identity fraud as opportunistic criminal elements are known to use this period of increased purchasing and online transacting to further their own aims.


As Proudly South African strategic partner,  CGF Research Institute (Pty) Ltd, points out in the newest of its series of reports on corporate governance related issues (Issue 49: Identity Crime), identity crime presents a global threat to the security of nations, citizens, economies and global commerce.


Identity theft and identity fraud involve the theft and/or  use of another ‘s – real or fictitious - identity (personal information), usually for economic gain. It affects individual victims, financial institutions, business owners (particularly retailers), and law enforcement agencies. Compared to countries such as the USA, Canada and the EU, South Africa needs to enhance the area of legislation to adequately protect individuals and corporate citizens against this scourge.


According to CGF, identity theft is usually classified as one of the following:

  • Financial identity theft, where another’s name and official identification document is used to obtain goods and services;
  • Criminal identity theft, where the criminal poses as another when apprehended for a crime;
  • Identity cloning,  where another person’s information is used to assume his/her identity in daily life; and
  • Business or commercial identity theft, where the criminal uses another’s business name to obtain credit.


The impact of identity crime can vary from individual or business financial loss and reputational damage to major disruption caused by terrorist activity.  Although accurate statistics are not readily available, the annual loss relating to fraudulent activity in South Africa is said to range between R800 million and R3 billion (SA Fraud Prevention Services).


Known incidences of identity theft reportedly increased from 4 678 in 2005, to 6 831 in 2006, with the figure expected to reach 7 100 by December 2007.


The CGF Report provides the following useful guidelines on the precautions that can be taken to safeguard one’s identity:

  • Avoid unrestricted access to personal information and documents, banking details,  et cetera and do not leave it unattended
  • Never use Internet café’s for business transacting or reveal your identity or security issues;
  • Do not accept help from others, especially at ATM’s or banking halls;
  • Destroy documentation with personal information which is not in use or required any longer;
  • Check your credit rating periodically to ensure that your identity has not been replicated elsewhere;
  • Avoid electronic communication and interactions with unfamiliar suppliers/vendors, especially when you are required to provide personal or sensitive information about yourself;
  • Aim to transact directly (face-to-face) with parties legitimately interested in you or your business;
  • Be suspicious of any gestures of kind and/or fame or fortune, especially where you are required to provide personal information about yourself;
  • Accurately verify (through accredited data agencies) and make sure that you are dealing with authenticated people/documents/companies.


This newsletter has been supplied courtesy of CGF Research Institute (Pty) Ltd, a strategic partner of Proudly South African.


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