Identity theft isn’t something most people worry about… until it happens to them. We all should be thinking about it a little more, lest we get saddled with debts that don’t belong to us, or find ourselves married to a stranger. ThisIsMe is an identity verification service based in South Africa that keeps your data in a digital ‘vault’ and helps you prove to other parties that you are who you say you are. Now the company behind it has launched a new consumer product called FutureProtect that seeks to help people avoid becoming victims of identity theft.
FutureProtect offers a free plan which sends you alerts whenever a credit check is done in your name, when your ID is checked, or when your credit changes for any reason. It then offers paid-for plans that include insurance against identity theft and send you regular credit scores, so you can pick up any strange behaviour before it becomes a problem.
The three paid tiers start at R100/month and go up to R300 with a month. The higher the plan, the more personal data insurance you get.
We hear about data breaches almost daily, whether it is Facebook selling personal data to advertisers, or Google permitting third parties to read our emails. Like it or not, the online world isn’t quite as secure as we’d like it to be. According to FutureProtect, there’s a more than 90% chance that your personal identity information has already been stolen (to check this, have a look at HaveIbeenpwned).
“Imagine a large loan being granted in your name without your knowledge – that’s something you will have to pay for,” says David Thomas, co-founder of ThisIsMe. “Imagine your bank account being drained until nothing is left, think of the effect that can have on you and your family. Even if you don’t lose money by being hacked, you lose your privacy and put those closest to you at risk.”
The thought of having your identity stolen for any reason is unsettling, but along with aids like FutureProtect, be wary of anything online that requires you to enter your ID number or banking details. Any website can be hacked, even banks and insurance companies. And remember, if it’s too good to be true, it almost always is.
Have a look at the plans that FutureProtect offers on their website, and make a conscious decision not to be a dimwit and distribute your personal info like flyers at an intersection.