Having your identity stolen can be emotionally and financially devastating and take years to resolve. Here’s how to recognise if your identity has been stolen and the key actions you should take.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal, identifiable or sensitive information and uses it to defraud or harm you, such as falsely obtaining money, credit, loans or goods, setting up accounts or signing contracts in your name, stealing your superannuation, impersonating you on social media, committing crimes or harming your reputation.
What is personal identifiable information?
Personal identifiable information is anything that helps to identify who you are or how to find you. It may include:
- Your full name
- Phone number
- Bank account details
- Debit and credit card details
- Driver’s licence number
- Passport details
- Tax File Number
- Usernames and passwords
- Location check-ins and event RSVPs
- Email addresses
Signs of identity theft?
If your identity has been stolen, it might be a while before you realise it. Some of the signs to look out for include:
- Mail you’re expecting never arrives.
- You’ve lost important documents such as your passport or driver’s licence.
- Unusual charges, purchases or transactions appear on your bank or credit card statements.
- You’ve applied for a government benefit but are told you already receive it.
- You receive bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for things you’ve bought or services you haven’t used.
- You’re denied a loan or credit card, despite having a good credit history.
- You’ve received letters from solicitors or debt collectors, for debts that aren’t yours.
- A mobile phone contract has been taken out in your name, without you knowing.
What to do if you think your identity has been stolen
- Notify your bank, credit provider and super fund.
- Log out of all your online accounts and change the passwords.
- Notify the Australian Taxation Office and/or Centrelink.
- Contact VicRoads if you have a driver’s licence.
- If you have a passport, alert the Australian Passport Office.
- Let your family, friends and employer know.
- Report it to Report Cyber at the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
- Call IDCARE on 1800 595 160 or complete their online form to get specialised advice and support to help limit any damage.
- Apply for a Commonwealth Victims Certificate, which can help you to re-establish your credentials with government agencies, businesses and banks and have them remove fraudulent transactions from their records.
What to do if you've been affected by a data breach
If you've been affected by a data breach, it's important to:
- Report the breach to your bank and super fund, as well as VicRoads and the Australia Passport office, if appropriate.
- Change your passwords.
- Be on the lookout for suspicious emails, phone calls, texts or social media messages
- Monitor your bank account for any purchases or transactions you didn’t make
- Request copies of your credit reports from all 3 credit reporting bodies (Equifax, Experian and illion) to see if they include any unauthorised loans or applications.
- request a temporary ban on your credit report