Identity crime is a threat in Australia, causing financial losses as well as personal toil. Here are 5 steps for identity theft recovery
Identity crime is a major threat in Australia. It can cause significant financial losses and exact a hefty toll on people as they try to regain control of their lives. Identity theft recovery can be time-consuming, but there are steps to make it easier.
How does identity theft happen?
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to open new accounts, obtain credit or loans, file fake tax returns, rent or buy properties and pay for goods and services.
People can fall victim to identity theft in many different ways. The most common is through a data breach when a cybercriminal hacks into a company’s database and steals personal information about customers. The most popular sectors for data breaches include healthcare, retail and financial. These types of data breaches give cybercriminals access to massive amounts of personal information from hundreds to millions of people in one fell swoop.
Scams such as phishing are also very popular as a way to trick people into divulging sensitive information, either by providing it themselves or through the installation of malware that automatically steals data from their computer.
What are the consequences?
When someone steals your identity, they can cause chaos in your name and leave you with the bills to pay. They can run up massive credit card and utility bills using your identity and wreck your credit rating. This can make it difficult for you to obtain credit or a loan. In some instances, they might use your identity if they are arrested for a crime, and you could end up with a criminal record without even knowing anything about it.
Identity theft recovery can take months, if not longer. It is time-consuming and energy sapping trying to prove you were not involved with numerous bank accounts and loans fraudulently opened in your name. It can also take a toll on your mental health and well-being. Having your name tarnished and trashed by someone else can be very traumatic.
5 steps to identity theft recovery
The best way is to limit the damage and recover from identity theft is by spotting and dealing with it as quickly as possible. Here are five steps to take if you think you have been the victim of identity theft.
- Report any fraud to your bank and credit card companies – if you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, you should report your suspicions as quickly as possible to your bank and credit card companies. The faster you do it, the less damage it will cause to your finances and your identity. You should also notify the state and territory police and lodge a report with the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s ReportCyber.
- Freeze your cards – If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft or if you lose your wallet or purse, you should contact the relevant card issuers and cancel all your cards as quickly as possible. The same applies for any other form of personal ID that may have been lost. Request credit bans to prevent future misuse of your credit.
- Comb through your statements and records for any unusual activity – One of the most common ways of discovering identity theft is from strange or unfamiliar transactions in your credit card or bank account statements. It pays to check your credit card and bank statements closely and verify all transactions. Criminals often use a minor test purchase to check whether your account is vulnerable. If you find suspect transactions, you should report them to the bank or credit card company before the identity thieves have a chance to make a much bigger purchase.
- Get legal advice – You may require legal advice if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, particularly If you're contacted about money for goods or services you didn't order. You may be eligible for a Commonwealth Victim’s Certificate to help support your claim if you have been the victim of Commonwealth identity crime. You can present the certificate to an organisation such as a government agency or a business (such as a financial institution or credit agency). Community legal centres may also provide general legal assistance.
- Change your passwords – ID thieves often try to hijack and usurp your accounts, so it is important to change the passwords on these and close any unauthorised ones. Keep a record of the cancellations. Avoid using the same password for multiple websites.
How to Simplify the Process
Identity theft is never a simple process for the victim. Once you have taken steps to try and stop your identity from being abused, the process of resolving that misuse and recovering your identity and reputation can be onerous and stressful. A national identity and cyber support service for Australia and New Zealand, called IDCARE, also provides “free practical and behavioural support” to people who have fallen victim to identity theft.
With Norton Identity Advisor Plus you have dedicated Identity Restoration Specialists on-hand to help you each step of the way should you discover you’re a victim of identity theft. Our knowledgeable specialists can help you evaluate and address your identity fraud claim and recommend the steps to take and calls to make with you to help resolve the fraudulent activity.
Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc.
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