oa South African Journal of Information Management - Identity theft escalation - you may need to change your life

Volume 7 Number 4
  • ISSN : 2078-1865
  • E-ISSN: 1560-683X



The past five years saw a notable increase in identity theft worldwide. With increased Internet activity, specifically in the different forms of e-commerce and e-business, more people are having their personal details transmitted and stored on networks worldwide. The improved ability to conduct financial transactions (such as obtaining credit) online has also provided a large degree of anonymity to fraudsters and prospective fraudsters. Breaching the security of a corporate network can have devastating effects on the corporation and its clients. The number of incidents where personal information is stolen for the purpose of identity theft is increasing. Fraudsters and crime syndicates use false identities to commit fraud. Knowledge workers are not well informed about potential security risks in general, which may lead to information theft and they may unwittingly follow practices that could present risks to their own information as well as to that of their corporations. In this article, identity theft awareness and the potential risks involved are emphasized by reporting on surveys and media reports on incidents which occur worldwide. It was found that identity theft and fraud occur more frequently globally and that knowledge workers and Internet users as well as non-computer users are at risk whenever their details are stored somewhere on a computer system such as with service providers or retailers. When reviewing literature about the phenomenon, it also became clear that while there is no easy solution to the problem, knowledge workers can exercise caution to protect their privacy. It was further found that knowledge workers are mostly at risk if they are not well informed about the strategies employed by fraudsters. The objective of this article is therefore to raise awareness of the risks of identity theft and fraud.

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