The term “identity theft” has been around for 50 years, but it wasn’t until technology made it a common crime that the average person had to worry about how identity theft could affect them.

Statistics from the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) show that identity theft has increased by 200% over the past six years, and it can take up to 292 days for individuals to notice their information has been wrongfully used for fraudulent activities if they do not keep regular check of their activities.

Most people don’t know they’ve been victims of identity theft until their stolen information is used to cause damage in real life – for example, when a collections agency contacts someone for failing to pay a credit card opened fraudulently in their name.

But you can proactively prevent identity theft from occurring, get protection from its consequences should it ever happen to you, and get help restoring your identity and recovering damages.

Pre-emptive detection and live monitoring of personal and business digital assets is now critical. Cybercrime is growing at a faster rate than ever before, and an advanced threat detection solution should form part of your daily digital life, in much the same way that an operating system or anti-virus update does.

Identity theft occurs when someone deliberately uses key pieces of your personal information – like your ID number, bank account number, driver’s license, name, or address – for financial gain.

What makes it so detrimental is that what’s stolen is not usually something that can easily be changed or replaced. Not only does this often result in monetary damages, but it almost always requires a huge investment of time and energy to track down fraudulent accounts and purchases, and stop further incidents from occurring.

Solutions from providers such as MyIDGlobal provide always-on monitoring of mobile, email, ID and credit card data. This type of solution runs live across the entire Web looking for fraudulent utilisation of your key digital assets, alerting you if something is flagged.

This not only helps individuals immediately identify fraudulent transactions, but offers potential mitigation strategies to ensure the identity theft is unsuccessful.

When combined with solid cyber insurance and / or liability cover, these types of solutions can offer a safety net to prevent financial losses from getting out of hand. Flagging suspicious activity serves as an early warning system, but if the criminals have taken the theft further and actually stolen money in your name, the cyber insurance ensures that you are not liable.

With South Africa having the third highest number of cyber-crime victims worldwide, losing about R2,2-billion a year in cyber-attacks, an identity monitoring solution, coupled with cyber insurance, is now critical.

Most people wouldn’t dream of driving an uninsured car, but your identity is much more valuable – cyber protection should therefore be standard on every insurance policy in the country.