According to a recent article, the Department of Home Affairs’ fingerprint verification system used by the banking sector can potentially prevent a fraud loss of around R322 million per month according to the Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. The online fingerprint verification programme was officially launched in 2009.
Seven South African banks use this fingerprint verification system known as the HANIS (Home Affairs National Identification System.)
This is definitely a step in the right direction for South Africa in fighting fraud with biometrics. 2016 is looking a little bit brighter on that front compared to last year with the arrest of a senior official from the Empangeni Home Affairs office for fraud and corruption according to an article released on the 31st December 2015.
The official is to be charged with 16 counts of fraud and corruption. He was allegedly selling falsified birth certificates to foreign nationals for between R900 and R5 000.
This article follows the reporting of a senior Home Affairs official in Pretoria that was arrested earlier in 2015 for fraudulently selling ID documents for as much as R23 000. 42 other individuals were believed to be a part of the syndicate as well.
A key takeaway from the article was the following:
“The identity business is quite a lucrative one and South Africans take it lightly how our IDs, passports and social services are quite sought after on the continent and abroad.”
Let’s unpack the statement above slightly. What social services? As a South African Resident you are entitled to Social Benefits. These benefits are International social services, Disability grant, Foster child grant, War veterans grant, Grant in aid,Care dependency grant, Social relief of distress, Child support grant, Old age pension, Admission of older persons to residential facilities. For a full explanation of what each of these Social Benefits are and entitle you to, have a look at the South African Governments website:
These Social Benefits may not be the cherry on top that makes South Africa a beautiful place to live for all of us but to some, it is a chance at a fresh start in a new country with potentially more benefit than what they are used to. All it takes is a fraudulent ID.
Since 2011, nearly 300 Home Affairs Officials have been let go over corruption according to an ENCA report.
There is still a long road ahead in fighting Identity Theft and Fraud and it helps to have the right people on your side. Everyone is vulnerable to Identity Theft because we possess something very valuable that criminal’s desire, a blank slate that your name and reputation can provide them. Stealing one’s life through the use of your personal information can have a lasting impact not only on you, but on the country as a whole.