What is Identity Fraud?
Identity fraud is simply theft of your identity. It is when someone uses your personal information such as your name, your Identity Number or other identifying information, to commit fraud or other crimes.
This information can be stolen from your home, car, your wallet and criminals will even go through your rubbish bins to obtain details from documents. Cyber-crime is on the increase, and personal and confidential information can be obtained via the internet, emails, spoofed websites and even social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Types of Identity Fraud
Phishing: Use of email “phishing” scams requesting you to provide your private and confidential information via a website link is a key tool currently used by these conmen. SARS will never ask you for information such as your eFiling details (login details, passwords, pins, credit/debit card information, etc.) in an email or over the phone.
An identity thief can use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund. Another threat is that the criminal makes use of your information to change the banking details on your profile. See some examples of scams and phishing
Identity Theft: The latest scam involves taxpayers being called by a person alleging to be a SARS employee, to inform them that SARS owes them money. SARS will never notify you about refunds by telephone or email.
Fake SARS auditors/employees: Scam artists pretending to be SARS auditors/employees contact businesses to inform them that they are under investigation and that an audit is going to be conducted. The business is then provided with a fake letter supposedly from the Audit Section, requesting the client to provide full co-operation with the “auditor or employee”.
Identifying a Possible Scam
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice or letter from SARS that states that:
- More than one tax return has been filed in your name
- You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return, or
- SARS records indicate you received a salary from an employer that you don’t work for
- You receive a letter/email or fax claiming to be from SARS, informing you that there has been a payment error and you have been refunded incorrectly. The criminal requests you to deposit the “overpayment” into a bank account
- You receive an email requesting eFiling details (login details, passwords, pins, credit/debit card information, etc.).
Reporting Suspicious Activity, Identity Theft or Fraud
If you suspect the legality of a particular communication or believe you have been contacted by a fake SARS “employee", you can report a suspicious activity
in the following ways:
- Filling in the suspicious-activity report form online
- Calling the Contact Centre on 012 422 7435 to confirm a SARS official is in fact an employee
- Contacting our Anti-Corruption and Fraud Hotline on 0800 00 2870
- Phoning the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 SARS (7277)
- Visiting your nearest SARS branch to verify the information.
If you have become the victim of identity theft, you should immediately notify SARS, report it to the police and close all bank accounts.