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Why 42% of South Africans find it acceptable to commit first-party fraud

Yumna Moosa –

 29 November 2022 | 2 minute read | 14.20pm CAT

The analysis company Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) has found that 42% of South Africans find it acceptable to commit first-party fraud. FICO says respondents who find it acceptable to commit first-party fraud believe that behaviour such as exaggerating income to gain credit access and inflating insurance claims are either okay in some circumstances or normal behaviour. Gareth Williams, from the company, joined Radio Islam International to elaborate on the findings.

FICO is a global analytic software provider with most major South African banks. They aid in managing credit risks, stopping fraud and improving customer experiences. The company started their customer survey on fraud as it was identified as one of the most significant challenges that banks and financial providers were grappling with recently, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

When asked why FICO surveyed these statistics and why South Africa was chosen to be included in the study, Gareth says:

We looked at 14 countries around the world. What was concerning to FICO was that the figures were high across the globe. South Africa was by no means the worst country in the survey. It was concerning that people are starting to see this as increasingly acceptable behaviour, even though it constitutes fraud.

He further explains:

Many people are experiencing a rise in the cost of living. Due to that, they might consider that they could ease their circumstances by falsifying information in a credit application. When people are under financial stress, they might alter their behaviour and think it’s okay to exaggerate income, as it is often their only way of getting credit. In truth, if they can’t get access, it’s probably because the banks already deem you high risk. What this means is that if you don’t pay them, there are two very severe consequences. The first is an investigation that shows that fraud was committed. The second is finding yourself in debt you can’t repay because you’ve overextended by exaggerating your income.

The FICO survey revealed that 7.2% of South Africans say that they know that their stolen identity has been used by criminals to open financial accounts. Gareth says that this was a large increase compared to their previous survey conducted in 2020 which displayed a result of 5%. Compared to countries such as Thailand which showcased a statistic of 37%, South Africa’s  results aren’t high comparatively.

Listen to the full interview between Mufti Yusuf Moosagie and Gareth Williams below:


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