What is Identity Fraud?
Identity fraud is 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 even where criminals will go through your rubbish bins to obtain the required documents. Cyber-crime is on the increase, and a wealth of personal and confidential information can be obtained via the internet, emails, spoofed websites and even social networking sites such as Facebook.
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 credentials, passwords, pins, credit / debit card information, etc) in an email.
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 phoned 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.
Fake SARS auditors: Scam artists pretending to be SARS auditors 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”.
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 do not work for.
- You receive a letter / email or fax purporting 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 credentials, passwords, pins, credit / debit card information, etc.)
Reporting Suspicious Activity, Identity Theft or Fraud
- If you suspect the authenticity of a particular communication or believe you have been contacted by a fake SARS “auditor”, you can report this in the following ways:
If you have become the victim of identity theft, you should immediately notify SARS, report it to the police and close all bank accounts.
- Phone the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277
- Visit your nearest SARS Branch to verify information
- Contact our Anti-Corruption and Fraud Hotline on 0800 00 2870
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Identity Fraud
- SARS will never request you to provide your banking details through the phone, by mail or via websites.
- Don’t give anyone your ID Number or other personal information unless you initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
- Protect your financial information. Ensure that your tax information, bank statements and other financial documents are kept in a secure location.
- Don’t respond to emails that provide you with a website link which requires you to log in and provide your password details or update your personal information.
- Keep secure personal information such as your ID Book, Passport and bank statements in your home. Shred all financial and personal information before disposing of it.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software and update security patches.
- Change your passwords for Internet accounts on a monthly basis.
- Tighten up on your social networking security settings. Criminals can make use of information obtained on Facebook and other sites to steal your identity.
- Check your credit record at least every 12 months to confirm that no unknown accounts or credit facilities have been opened in your name.
- Protect your information by registering with the South African Fraud Prevention Services if your Identity Document or passport has been stolen. This can be done at www.safps.org.za.
- To report or to get more information on phishing, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Hotline on 0800 00 2870.