How not to fall victim to identity theft

With more consumers sharing information online and across multiple devices, today’s criminals have increasingly sophisticated means at their disposal with which to steal your identity. The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has reported the results of its 2019 online survey into Identity Crime and Misuse in Australia, and the results are startling.

  • 1 in 4 of the Australians surveyed (25%) reported having been a victim of identity crime at some point in their lives.
  • Nearly 12% of respondents reported having their personal information misused in the past 12 months.
  • Names and credit/debit card details were most commonly misused (41% each).
  • Misuse of driver licences increased 25% between 2018 and 2019.

The risks of identity crime

Victims of identity crime were found to spend an average of 34 hours repairing the damage caused. Average out-of-pocket losses were over $4,000 per victim in 2019, much more than in 2018. Total losses grew by $700,000 since 2018, to $2.5m. The most common misuse of personal information was to obtain money from a bank (39.4%), but incidents where mobile phone accounts were opened increased by about 57%. 

Having your identity stolen or misused can cost even more than time and money. It can seriously affect your credit score, making it harder to access the credit you need to achieve your financial goals. Indeed, the most common outcome of identity crime in 2019 was the refusal of credit (20%).

How to keep your identity safe

Maintain security on all of your devices – The AIC research found that personal information was most often obtained through the theft or hacking of a device. But these days hackers can use many means, including the monitoring of social media profiles, in order to collect information on you that can be used to steal your identity. It definitely pays to have Anti-Virus software installed and keep your devices secure and locked down at all times.

Monitor and protect your credit – The Equifax Ultimate Package helps you manage and protect both your credit profile and your identity. It allows you to regularly track your Equifax Credit Score and receive Credit Alerts if certain changes appear on your Equifax Credit Report, such as payment defaults or a new credit enquiry, which can help alert you quickly to any suspicious activity. You also get peace of mind through Identity Watch and Identity Guard Insurance^.

^Terms, conditions, exclusions and limitations apply. 

Get a free copy of your credit report and look over it closely to make sure everything is correct and that there are no errors nor any irregular activity. 

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it, and where appropriate, seek professional financial advice.