South Africa Taking Proactive Step with the Use of Smart ID Cards

South Africa Taking Proactive Step with the Use of Smart ID Cards

In the U.S., we hear about identity fraud on a daily basis, so much so, that most of it falls on numb ears as the population has increasingly accepted this as a way of life. But, do you realize that America isn’t the only country with an identity theft and fraud problem? Have you ever considered South Africa?

Apartheid is an Afrikkans word meaning “separation,” where “Bantu” persons were forced to carry a passbook that stripped them of their citizenship and identities.

From 1948 until now, all South Africans over 16 years of age were required to carry a green, bar-coded, ID book called “dompas.” Because the book was made of paper, it was easy to alter, making identity theft virtually inevitable. Fingerprints and photographs also were required to be submitted for the population register. But now, smart cards are replacing these “green books.”

These new, laser-engraved, smart ID cards with pigment ink transfer technology, record the card owner’s fingerprints and biographic data with the help of a dual-interface microchip, making these cards almost impossible to forge. This chip also enables the card to be used to access other government services, like electronic health records.

And, this is a good thing since identity fraud costs South Africans approximately $100 million per year, compared to costing Americans $1.52 billion in 2011 alone, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Although it will take at least 6 years for the new ID cards to be issued and the system to be in place so that everyone in South Africa will have their identity protected, African citizens will receive their cards in approximately 5-10 days, compared to the 47 days it took for their “green book” to be printed and delivered.

Unfortunately, with such good news, some bad must follow. These IDs are highly sought after by illegal immigrants as some have already tried to bribe government officials to get one of the new smart cards.

Do you think having this type of smart ID card in the U.S. that could contain our fingerprints, medical records, passport, etc. is a good way to decrease identity fraud and theft?

If so, do you think we would have the same issues with illegal immigrants trying to bribe their way to obtain the cards?

What about for South Africa? Do you think the smart cards are a huge step in the right direction or do you think they should have used a different method?

Overall, what do you think is the most effective way to do away with identity theft and fraud globally?


Posted by Ginger Hill on Aug 14, 2013

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