Increase in identity theft

Roche Bennington can blame bureaucracy for taking so long to settle a third party insurance claim after the windscreen of her car cracked outside Builders Warehouse in Tokai.

“My car, a Hyundai Atos, was loaded with planks at Builders Warehouse. It was a tight fit, so we did not close the back door, but as I started the car , an employee shut the door, slamming the planks into the windscreen which cracked as a result,” said Ms Bennington, 81, of Diep River.

Ms Bennington reported it to the manager, a Mr Gresskil, who said he would phone her. But he didn’t .
“I phoned another number for Builders Warehouse and Tristan Kelly said she would handle it. She asked for a letter from Santam, my insurer, to state that I would not claim from them, and two quotes for the repair. Then she wanted a declaration that the car belonged to me. A few weeks later she asked for proof of registration, which I didn’t get from the dealership when I bought my car eight years ago. They have since closed and the receipt of payment I have, does not have my name on it. I sent my licence paper but that was rejected after another three weeks.

“I got the impression that Builders Warehouse were stalling the application, it is now six weeks since the damage occurred.

However, I find it strange that Builders Warehouse’s insurers want proof of registration, something Santam had never asked for. Tristan told me that the claim was rejected because they don’t have the registration document. Now I can’t claim from my insurer because at Builders Warehouse’s insistence I got a letter stating that I would not claim from Santam. Meanwhile, the windscreen has an even bigger crack and the fitters will not accept the quotes for the original repair as they are now too old.

“I tried to get a copy of my car registration certificate at the Plumstead office, but there were so many people and I cannot stand for so long, but I’ll try another day. I have tried the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance but it took them six months to contact me by which time all was forgotten. This is all a huge strain on me. Please help.”

It didn’t take long for Andries Steyn, director of marketing and innovation at Builders Warehouse, to respond.
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention, my team is investigating this matter as we speak. I will make sure we respond in detail, by your deadline.” And he did.

“We were initially made aware of this matter on March 12. Given that this involved a third party claim, there was an insurance requirement for further investigation to verify the facts associated with the incident. This did, embarrassingly, introduce an unnecessary degree of bureaucracy into the process. The reason for the additional information requested is based on the fact that this is considered a third party claim. Our insurers needed to confirm the vehicle belongs to the party involved, and confirm that no further claim will be processed against another insurer. We have apologised unreservedly to Ms Bennington and have also settled her claim in full. Thanks again for drawing this incident to our attention,” he said.

Ms Bennington said: “Hoorah, your input is like magic, I have received confirmation that they are paying. Thank you so much for the wonderful service you give to the public. It’s good to know we have a shoulder to cry on.”

Increase in identity theft

Identity theft in South Africa increased by more than 200% in six years.

The SA Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) found 3 600 cases of identity theft in 2014 with more recorded in 2015 and 2016.

It contributed to the loss of R1bn in 2014 alone.

Manie van Schalkwyk, executive director of SAFPS, said the scale of identity fraud has grown to include theft of information from cell and landline phone services; cable and satellite television services; power, water, gas and electricity services; internet and data services; medical insurance; home mortgages and rental housing, car financing, loans and government benefits.

A cellular network notified a “client” he owed R21 000 across five cellphone contracts.

He submitted an affidavit to dispute this and eventually the company admitted he doesn’t owe them anything.

The victim said he suffered dearly for the network’s negligence.

He was denied employment and is being harassed by people pushing loans to help him settle credit which he is not liable for.

“People usually find out that they have become a victim of identity crime when they hear from a credit provider or debt collector about an account or debt they know nothing about,” said Mr Van Schalkwyk.

“Treat your ID, driving licence and personal documents as cash. Don’t leave them lying around the house or in the car.”

Shred documents before tossing them in the bin and clear mailboxes regularly, particularly if you live in a housing complex where there are multiple mail boxes in one area,” Mr Van Schalkwyk said.

If you suspect that you have been impersonated, Mr Van Schalkwyk says, you should contact SAFPS which will advise you how to prove your innocence and clear your name.

If you have misplaced your ID book, credit card or other identification you can apply for a Protective Registration (PR) on the SAFPS database.

“Member organisations and some insurance companies have access to the SAFPS database and any identity theft or fraud will be flagged and can be prevented.”

SMS the word “Protectid” to 43366 or call 011 867 2234 or 0860 101248; or email to register with the SAFPS. It’s free.