Photograph — Ontario 211

South Africa is set to introduce a new mobile application, the Secure Citizen App to deal with the alarming rate of fraudulent activities in the country, particularly within its financial services sector.

Soon to be launched by the Southern African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS), the app will enable the agency to acquire and store biometrics such as voice recordings and photographs of public members.

“The real benefit of the Secure Citizen App will come in when members of the public apply for credit at financial institutions which are SAFPS members,” Executive Director of the SAFPS, Manie van Schalkwyk said.

According to Schalkwyk’s, when a credit application is made, the financial institution calls to inform the SAFPS of the application. A text message is then sent to the individual who applied for credit, seeking verification. Once the individual indicates that they did apply for credit, and the SAFPS receives the first indication that it is not dealing with a fraudster, the biometric information that was provided by the financial institution is checked against the biometric information that the SAFPS has on record. 

However, it is also important to note that companies, along with their consumers, have to be a member of the SAFPS to get the benefits.

“If the individual indicates that they did not apply for credit, or the verification of the biometrics fails, then we know that we are dealing with a fraudster from the outset,” the executive explained.

Apart from banks, insurance companies are also often hit by fraud. As explained by ITnewsafrica, a common strategy used by fraudsters is to open a life insurance or funeral policy with several, different insurers. Then their families would lodge multiple claims against a fake death.

To address this, the app would assist the insurance company to ensure that they are dealing with the correct individual which should eliminate multiple claims in different names. “In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, the public needs to be assured that they have the necessary protection against fraudsters provided that they supply us with their biometric information,” Schalkwyk added.


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