Though buying a house can be an exciting experience, it is important to be aware of potential situations that may put you at risk. Identity theft is one of the biggest crimes that is threatening our country at the moment. Thousands of people fall victim to this crime every day and home buyers are also at high risk.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone fraudulently uses your personal information, such as your ID document, home address, banking details, driver’s license and pay slip to open accounts and acquire credit using your name. The impersonator can either be a stranger or someone you know.
How do People obtain your Personal Information?
A lot of personal information is required in the process of buying a house. Criminals either hack into the system of property agents to acquire information and other times criminals may be working with employees within the property agency that provide them with the information illegally.
Taking the Necessary Precautions:
- It is important to ask the property agent how they will be handling your personal information and whether they have safety policies regarding your information.
- If you are required to submit personal information online or through emails, ask if the property agency’s server is secured.
- Make sure you run a background check on the property agency, always work with a reputable, listed and professional agency.
Steps to take if your Identity has been stolen:
- Notify your bank
- Report the crime to your local police station
- Put a fraud alert on your credit profile
- Depending on the documentation stolen, e.g. ID or driver's license, notify the relevant organization in charge, e.g. the license department or the Department of Home Affairs.
- Contact the South African Fraud Prevention Services
Be sure to take good care of your personal information to avoid falling prey to fraud and identity theft by working with a reputable property agency. Intro Real Estate, it’s the right choice.