Understanding, Preventing and Fighting Identity Theft
Man sitting on his couch talking on his cellphone

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when your personal information is stolen and used to commit fraud by e.g. opening accounts in your name.

Techniques used to steal your information

  • Phishing and spoof. Impersonating a well-known organization through fraudulent (phishing) emails and spoof websites. To find out more about phishing and how to protect yourself against phishing click here.
  • Examining garbage. Criminals would scavenging through trash bins to find old bank statements or other documents with personal information.
  • In person. Eavesdropping or spying on people during financial transactions.
  • Hacking. Breaking into computer databases and retrieving information.

How does PayU protect you against identity theft?

PayU works 24/7 to help safeguard your privacy and protect your identity by using advanced technology and vigilant monitoring.

  • If you get an email that may be fraudulent, alert us by forwarding it to security@payu.co.za.
  • We work with law enforcement to assist in apprehending and prosecuting fraudsters and to identity thieves.


5 Ways to Thwart Identity Thieves

1. Guard your information, online and offline

While news headlines make identity theft seem like it's mainly an online issue, you should recognize that there are also very real offline dangers.

  • Trash doesn't always end up in the dump. A recent study suggests that you are in greater danger from identity thieves rummaging for important papers in your trash or breaking into your mailbox than from online theft.
  • A major source of identity theft is a result of stolen wallets, checkbooks, and credit cards.
  • Offline precautions. To protect yourself, consider shredding documents containing your personal information, such as account statements, locking your mailbox, and emptying your wallet of anything you don't absolutely have to carry.

2. Don‘t respond to email or phone calls asking for your account information

  • Phishing emails: Phishing (fake) emails are made to look like they‘re from legitimate companies but are actually from identity thieves. These emails warn you of account problems or other urgent issues in order to trick you into clicking through to a spoof website or calling a fake customer service number.
  • Spoof websites: A fake website is meant to mimic a website from a well-known company. It will ask you to enter your user name and password or other account information. Once you do this, you've given your information to someone who might use it to do you harm.
  • Genuine PayU email: We will never ask for your password, personal or financial information in an email. You should only share information about your account once you‘ve logged in to https://www.payu.co.za directly from your browser.
  • Phone Calls: Beware of unsolicited phone calls claiming to be from customer service centers and requesting that you provide sensitive personal information. You should hang up and call the number on the company‘s website.

3. Pay safely

People have become smarter about sharing their personal identification numbers — but often don't think twice about sharing other sorts of sensitive information during transactions.

  • Checks: When paying with a check, you're handing a piece of paper with your bank name, account number, address, and signature to a stranger. Industry analysts report that check fraud is a significant problem.
  • Online payment systems: When using online payment systems like PayU, you get a secure way to complete a transaction. With PayU, you can pay without the merchant ever seeing your credit card or bank account number. This significantly limits the information that you share in a financial transaction.

4. Protect your computer

  • Software protection: The key to securing your own computer is to use protective software and keep it up to date. Make sure that you install all security patches available from the developer of your operating system. Run antivirus software to check incoming emails and update virus definitions frequently. Set up a firewall to prevent intruders from getting into your network or computer.
  • Password protection: Always choose strong passwords to protect accounts. Mix upper and lowercase letters. Use symbol characters. Create unique passwords for each one of your accounts.

5. Stay alert

  • Act Quickly. The longer a breach goes undiscovered, the more costly it becomes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, your chances of suffering significant financial damage from identity theft are significantly lower if you discover the breach within six months of its occurrence. After six months, you are more likely to lose money or spend hours untangling a truly difficult situation.
  • Monitor your accounts frequently. Log in to your PayU account and also check credit card activity and balances often to look for suspicious activity.


Fighting Identity Theft

Depending on the nature and extent of the issue you may need to take different actions. Some issues — like a bad charge on your credit card — are isolated and you may only need to contact one company, like your credit card issuer, to resolve them. Other situations — like when multiple accounts have been compromised or new accounts have been opened in your name — are more complicated. In these cases, you may also need to work with credit bureaus and law enforcement to sort out the problems. It‘s important to act quickly in order to limit the damage as much as possible. You should act as soon as you suspect you may be a victim of identity theft by taking the following actions:

Contact your financial institutions

  • Don‘t wait: Immediately advise the financial institutions where you hold accounts about your situation.
  • For PayU Accounts: If you suspect your PayU account has been compromised, we‘re here to help therefore contact us.
  • For banks and credit card companies: Contact the fraud departments, explain that you suspect you‘re a victim of fraud, and ask the company about their procedure for handling identity theft cases.
  • Know your rights.

Report it to law enforcement

  • For all identity thefts. Contact your local law enforcement agency and file a report.
  • For more serious thefts. It is especially important to have a crime-report to back up your story with your bank and credit card companies. In some cases, you may be directed to file a report in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred.

Be vigilant

  • Striking twice: While everyone should be alert, identity theft victims have to be even more careful for six months to a year following an identity theft incident.
  • Extra caution: Following an identity theft, it's vital that you check your account activity and balances often. As well as order a credit report periodically.
  • Get free security help: PayU users can also get Free Equifax Credit Alerts which alert you to possible identity theft.