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Ask Arthur: How did someone steal my university registration?

A reader discovers that her identity number has been used by someone else to register at university. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK suggests a few paths to follow.

Q: I can’t get registered at university because my ID number has already been used by someone else. How is that possible and what can I do?

A: Sadly, you may be a victim of identity theft. This happens when someone has enough information about you to claim to be you, even to the extent of producing forged or illegally obtained identity documents. Unfortunately, neither the authorities nor large organisations like banks, mobile networks and universities have put straightforward processes in place to deal with the issue. As a result, it happens more often than it should.

One of the main reasons for someone using your ID number is that, in South Africa, duplicate ID numbers can occur due to errors in the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) system, but it is more likely due to fraudulent activities, or identity theft.

The following steps are recommended:

  1. Contact the Department of Home Affairs (DHA): Report the issue to the DHA immediately:
  2. Gather Evidence: Collect any documents that support your identity and legal claim to the ID number. This could include:
    • Certified copies of your birth certificate and other ID documents.
    • Proof of address (utility bills, rental agreements).
    • Witness statements.
  3. Seek Legal Advice: Consider consulting a lawyer specialising in identity theft.
  4. Report Fraud: If you suspect your ID number was used fraudulently, file a police report, and report it to the institution where the fraud occurred. 
  5. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) can sometimes provides support to individuals affected by identity theft. You can contact them at 0800 555 967 or
  6. The SA Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) offers advice at
  7.  Apply for a free Protective Registration listing with Southern Africa Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) at Under the “Fraud Prevention” Tab, click on “Apply for Protective Registration”, and “Register Now”.

Please note that I am not a legal professional, and this information is not legal advice. This matter is more of a legal issue than a tech matter, so it is best to consult legal professional for specific advice related to your situation.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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