The lowdown on identity theft

What's it all about?

ACTIVITY

What is it?
Identity theft involves using someone else’s personal or financial information, or pretending to be that person, to make purchases or transactions. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes and having your identity stolen can be devastating – both financially and emotionally.

Identity theft can be in the form of someone using your credit card details illegally, or on a more serious scale, it can be someone using your name to operate business, commit crimes, open accounts and take out loans. Basically, it is not something that you want to have happen to you.

How does it happen?
Think about how many different companies have your personal information – banks, real estate agents, phone providers… the list goes on. As well as potentially gaining access to your personal details from businesses through compromised data and security, theft or bribery, if you consider the kind of information you carry around just in your wallet each day, not to mention what might be available online, in your home, your letterbox, your rubbish bin or your car, you can see how the opportunity to gain access to this data may arise.

Ways to protect yourself
There are a number of things you can do to protect your personal information. You will find some handy tips here. Online security is particularly important - you can also find some specific information about staying safe online here.

How will you know if this has happened to you?
The scary thing is, that sometimes you might not realise you have fallen victim to identity theft. Signs to look out for can include failing to receive monthly statements or other mail, or alternatively receiving statements for accounts you haven’t applied for, receiving calls from companies or debt collectors regarding purchases you aren’t aware of, or having a loan application rejected when you thought you had a good credit history.

What if it happens to you?
Find out what steps to take if this ever happens to you.

More resources: 

http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/tag/identitytheft#h2_12 - information on scams to be aware of.

http://www.afp.gov.au/policing/fraud/identity-crime - more information and details.

http://www.macquarie.com.au/dafiles/Internet/mgl/au/personal/docs/articles/creditcards-identity-theft-prevention-toolkit.pdf - further information and a handy checklist to determine whether you may be at risk.


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