Identity fraud can occur in many ways—from somebody using your credit card details illegally to make purchases to having your entire identity assumed by another person to open bank accounts, take out loans and conduct illegal business under your name. How to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Never send money or give personal details to people you don’t know and trust.
- If you receive a call from your bank or any other organisation, don’t provide your personal details—instead ask for their name and a contact number. Check with the organisation in question before calling back.
- Never rely on a number provided in an email or click on the provided link—instead find the contact number through an internet search or check the back of your ATM card.
- Regularly check your credit card and/or bank statements to ensure that suspicious transactions are detected.
- Shred all documents containing personal information, such as credit card applications and bank statements.
- Log directly onto websites you are interested in rather than clicking on links provided in an email.
- Always get independent advice if you are unsure whether an offer or request is genuine.
- Lock your letterbox securely to avoid your mail being stolen.
- Ensure you choose passwords that are not easy for someone to guess, such as your date of birth, pet’s name etc.
Signs of identity fraud
These can vary, but some typical signs that your identity is being used unlawfully are:
- A financial institution informs you they have received an application for credit that you have not applied for.
- You receive phone calls or letters advising that you have been denied credit that you have not applied for.
- You receive bank, mobile phone or credit card statements or notices in your name, of which you have no knowledge.
- You notice that you no longer receive your bank or credit card statement or you notice that not all your mail is being delivered.
What can you do?
If you believe that you have had personal papers stolen, or have become a victim of identity theft, notify us as soon as possible on 1300 553 582. You should also advise any other financial institution that you bank with so they are aware of the situation. Any instance of identity fraud should also be immediately reported to your local police.
It is also a good idea to advise close family and friends as identity theft rings will often target more than one member of a household. In addition, consider contacting Veda Advantage, a credit agency, to obtain your credit history report so that you are kept fully informed of any unauthorised activity on your own file. Veda Advantage can be contacted via their Customer Service Centre on 1300 762 207 or at mycreditfile.com.au.