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Secure Citizen partners with SAFPS to prevent identity theft

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Secure Citizen has partnered with the Southern African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) to act as the organisation’s digital identity arm.

SAFPS is a not-for-profit organisation whose mandate is fraud prevention, and who is the custodian of a list of known victims and known fraudsters.

Dalene Deale, executive head of Secure Citizen, says over the past two years online fraud, identity theft in particular, has skyrocketed. At the same time, many large organisations experienced extensive data leaks, that have seen the personal data of approximately 24 million South Africans leaked onto the public domain.

Now, anyone who suspects they have been a victim of identity theft or had their information compromised, can send an email to Secure Citizen, who will biometrically verify their identity, check their breach status and then, should they wish, give the individual a Protective Registration (PR).

This is a service provided by SAFPS, she explains. Although it has been available for years, in the past, individuals would have to go to SAFPS or a financial institution could register them for it, had they been affected by identity theft. With Secure Citizen becoming the digital arm of SAFPS, they can now handle biometric identification, help with breach information, and issue a PR.

Companies have to take extra measures to prove that they are in fact dealing with the real individual when a PR is active on that person, she says. “Only the real person will have the reference number shared with the individual through the biometric verification.”

Account takeovers

According to Deale, a common example of identity theft that is currently prolific is ‘account takeovers’, which happen when an individual has a line of credit in a store and fraudsters use the individual's identity information in order to access the credit without the victims knowledge or permission.

Deale herself became a victim, when she wanted to upgrade her cell phone contract, only to find out someone else had done it two weeks prior. “This left me with a R26 000 bill which took months and a lot of painstaking processes to resolve,” she adds.

Biometric verification

Secure Citizen uses the unique attributes of an individual to verify them. “We have a business solution that is already available and affordable for businesses to use, that enables biometric verification before providing services or information.”

The company’s direct-to-consumer solution is at no cost. “For now, this happens manually by emailing breach@securecitizen.co.za. We will reply with a service for the individual to first biometrically verify themselves using their ID number and a selfie. And we will assist with breach status information from breaches previously shared by authorities and we can assist with a PR.”

Secure Citizen sees themselves as the champion for South African consumers, says Deale, and the company will soon launch their digital application for consumers. "This has been in development for many months and will provide access to numerous services that enhance convenience, while at the same time offering increased protection to the individual's identity.”

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