What should I do if my identity has been stolen?
The reality is that identity theft can be a stressful, time-consuming and costly experience that many people don’t realise has occurred until it’s too late. If you believe that someone may have used your identity details to fraudulently obtain credit you should act immediately.
Firstly you need to report the problem:
- Request a copy of your credit report to check that the information relates to applications for credit that you have in fact made.
- Contact any credit providers listed on your credit report that you do not know or have not applied for credit with so that they can investigate and take appropriate and prompt action
- Contact Equifax (and other credit reporting bodies) to put a ban on your consumer credit information
- Contact the police and report the crime
When dealing with a possible identity theft it is important to keep records of the conversations you have and keep notes, including:
- name/s of the individual;
- contact number;
- the date you spoke to an organisation; and
- details of the conversation.
You should also ask questions to the people you speak to so you can understand the process. Each credit provider may have their own processes for handling fraud. Note these requirements so you can comply.
What are some steps I can take to protect my identity?
To help protect your identity, we’ve put together the following checklist: ‘PROTECT'.
- Reduce the risk of postal fraud by installing a secure mailbox.
- Arrange for your mail to be held at the post office whenever you go away. If you are moving house, arrange for your mail to be forwarded and let companies such as banks, credit card and utility companies know your new address.
- After you've read important documents and no longer need them, shred them before throwing them out.
- Consider electronic statements, it helps protect the environment as well.
- Check your bank accounts each month and investigate any suspicious activity, such as small payments to unknown companies or people.
- Don’t reveal passwords and personal identification information online, such as your birth date, full name, mother's maiden name or your phone number.
- If you use social media sites like Facebook, make sure your privacy and security settings are updated so only ‘friends’ can access your page.
- Regularly check your credit file and register for Equifax’s Credit Alert service, which notifies you when certain changes are made to your credit file.
- Consider an Equifax service which includes Identity Watch, Australia's only cyber monitoring service. If your personal information is found to be compromised online you will be alerted.
- Shred paperwork containing personal information or account details, including bank and credit card statements, phone and energy bills.
- Always use secure sites when paying for purchases or transferring money online.
- Install security software and keep it updated to protect your computer from hackers, scammers and viruses.
- Never open any attachments from unreliable sources, or unusual messages or files from people you don’t know.
- Immediately inform your credit providers if you notice any suspicious activity in your financial accounts.
What steps should I take if I am the victim of a data breach?
If you have been notified by a company that personal information they hold on you has been the victim of a data breach it is a good idea to check your credit report and you may consider setting up credit alerts and identity monitoring through one of our Equifax ID Basic or Equifax Ultimate monthly subscriptions. This means that if someone tries to apply for credit in your name you will be alerted. Identity monitoring also notifies you if your personal information is being illegally traded.
You could also place a ban on your credit report to help prevent fraudulent accounts being opened in your name. Whilst a ban is in force, credit providers cannot view your credit report without your specific written permission.
Learn more: OAIC fact sheet on data breach guidance for consumers.
You can call us on 138 332 (select option 2).
You can use our online form here.
If you would like to place a ban on your Equifax credit report, please email us at banrequestAU@equifax.com and provide the following information:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Current address
- Previous address
- Drivers licence number
- Reason for requesting the ban
The initial ban period is for 21 days, but can be extended upon your written request if there are reasonable grounds.
If you are concerned about your identity being stolen it is important that you place a ban on your credit report with each credit reporting body in Australia.
Learn more: Read our "How to place a ban on your credit report" fact sheet.
The OAIC also have a fact sheet on fraud and your credit report: https://www.oaic.gov.au/individuals/privacy-fact-sheets/credit-reporting/privacy-fact-sheet-37-fraud-and-your-credit-report