What Is Considered ID Theft?

What is considered ID theft?

ID theft is a fairly common occurrence, and according to a survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology, it affects around 1 in 4 people in Australia.

The best way to prevent it is by remaining vigilant about your personal and financial security. When checking if you’ve been a victim of identity fraud or theft, you will need to order a credit history report. In this report, you’ll be shown your current credit rating and what organisations have accessed your credit history.

You can look through this report and see if anything seems like a red flag; this may include credit card applications or loans that you did not authorise.
In most cases, identity theft aims to obtain loans and credit cards in your name. The criminals will keep all the funds, and you’ll be stuck with the repayments. Many people only find out they’ve been a victim of ID fraud or theft when they apply for finance, and then they’re refused. Upon checking your credit score rating, you may see a credit default on a loan that you never applied for. Victims of identity theft can find it challenging to recover from this incident, both financially and personally, and it may take some time to get all your finances back in order.


Why does ID theft occur?

ID theft occurs whenever one person uses another’s personal information without consent. For example, if someone used their sibling’s ID to buy alcohol, this can be considered identity theft. However, most people consider ID theft as a scenario where your ID or personal documents (passport, etc.) are used for financial gain.

It is also important to remember that ID theft is not always used for financial gain, as some people may use a stolen identity to create fraudulent passports or driver’s licences. These fake documents can then be used to open accounts or access your personal information. Consider if a person were to use your identification to register a vehicle. You may receive fines in the mail or even a court summons to explain a situation you have no idea about.

You can use the services available at Equifax to check if someone is using your identity in Australia. By following our guidelines and strategies, you can overcome the issues and problems around having a stolen identity

How does ID theft happen?

ID theft can occur in various ways, with some being physical and others happening online. Physical identity theft can happen by someone stealing your identification documents or making copies of your banking cards. A common tactic is cyber-criminals installing devices on ATMs that will read your credit card and film you entering your PIN; this is referred to as card skimming.
As banking is moving online, there are several different types of identity theft operating in that environment. How a scam artist or cyber-criminal will obtain your details online may vary. Here are some common ways criminal identity theft can occur online:

  • Remote access scams. You’ll usually receive a phone call or email in an attempt to get you to download software that provides the scammer access to your data.
  • Hacking. This occurs when there is a weakness in computer software security. These attacks are relatively common against large businesses with vast personal information databases that are unsecured.
  • Malware. Often comes as a downloadable program designed for malicious purposes. These can be delivered in various ways, including through USB keys.
  • Phishing. An email will be sent to you claiming to represent a financial institution or government agency, then it will direct you to a fraudulent website that will collect your login details. If you receive any emails where you’re not entirely sure they are authentic, you should delete them immediately and never click on any links they contain. Email scams are getting more sophisticated, and even the most discerning people can still get caught out.
  • Fake online profiles. Usually encountered on social media accounts, cyber-criminals will aim to collect money from you by acting as your friend or asking you to support a fictitious organisation.

The best tactic in identity theft prevention is to remain sceptical about any attempt to retrieve personal information from you. You can also look for any unusual activity on your bank accounts and regularly check your credit report through Equifax or other credit reporting agencies.

How to deal with ID theft?

If you’ve found out that you’re a victim of criminal identity theft in Australia, you should deal with it immediately to protect yourself against further damage. 

  • Contact your local police department. The police will provide you with a report that you can take to your financial institution to explain what is happening. ID theft may still often leave you with a bad credit score even after the criminals have been caught or you’ve protected yourself as much as possible. 
  • Close any unauthorised accounts. After you report identity theft to the police, you can start the recovery process by closing any unauthorised accounts. These accounts may include financial institutions and utility companies. 
  • Change all your passwords. After you have closed all unauthorised accounts, you need to change your passwords. Make all your passwords unique, and use the highest levels of security for all new passwords. You need to protect your online information, which may mean your computer needs to be cleaned of any possible threats. Many businesses will assist you with cleaning your computer from potential issues.

You can subscribe to the Equifax monitoring service, and we’ll watch your credit report. As a part of this service, we’ll send you an alert whenever an individual or business attempts to check your credit. If you need any further assistance and advice about how Equifax can help protect you and your family from identity theft in Australia, you can call us at 13 8332 during business hours, or you can contact our team through our online form.

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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 advice from a finance professional such as an adviser.