Your identity is who you are, how you think about yourself, how others see you, and the characteristics that define you. An example of identity is your name, which is very valuable. Imagine waking up, and someone who claims to be you is shopping worldwide and uses your particulars for all the wrong reasons to benefit themselves.
The above is an example of identity theft. It happens when a person steals your personal information such as your identification number and then uses the data to open credit card accounts and make use of other financial services - like applying for loans in your name. How can one prevent it from happening?
There are several ways to protect yourself from identity thieves. One of the most significant ways is to be aware that your identity is vulnerable to threats, especially in this digitised world fast-paced by COVID-19. Below are a few pointers to consider:
Check your Credit Report: Regularly contact the credit bureau to check your credit report. It is accessible by right, free of charge. The information will show any accounts opened in your name. If you see unusual transactions, report them immediately to the business involved.
Study your bank statements: Pay attention to your monthly bills for any suspicious charges, including suspicious debit orders and unknown card-not-present internet payments for goods. Most importantly, register for notification services on your bank accounts, such as Bank Windhoek's Short Messages Services (SMS), AlertMe, available at no cost. The alerts inform you of all activity on your transaction accounts and reduce the risk of losses due to fraudulent transactions. Time is of the essence, and your quick response will increase the possibility of recovering any losses.
Dispose and store information thoroughly: Shred all your personal and financial documents before putting them in the dustbin. Also, keep those that you do not want to be shredded, like your payslip, tax returns, and copies of your identity documents in a safe and secure place.
Strong passwords are essential: Use strong passwords and do not use your name or date of birth. Instead, use various numbers, words, letters mixed in both lowest and upper cases, and special characters protected by a strong firewall, up-to-date antivirus, and antimalware protection.
Do not respond to suspicious emails and avoid money wiring requests: Do not reply to emails, texts, or phone calls asking you for your personal information. Avoid the message and call your financial institution directly. Do not let people ask you to wire them money since this is the easiest way to defraud you and the least chance to recover any money.
The above are just a few of many ways to protect yourself against identity theft, but practicing vigilance remains one of the most robust defences to curb identity theft and fraud. Protect your identity at all times; it is precious. And remember, Bank Windhoek will never ask for your personal information over the phone.
If you are a victim or suspect that a scammer is targeting you, contact Bank Windhoek's Customer Contact Centre immediately to report the incident at Tel +264 61 299 1200.