Identity theft and fraud
Identity theft is when fraudsters steal your personal information, such as your name, date of birth, address, drivers licence number, medicare number and other details, and use it to impersonate you or to fabricate a new identity in order to steal money or gain other benefits. Fraudsters can use stolen personal information to apply for credit in your name.
Identity takeover is when someone accesses another person’s personal information and assumes that person’s identity.
Fraudsters can use seemingly harmless things, such as utility bills, drivers licence, passport, medicare or shopping club memberships, to steal your identity. Regard all documents containing personal information (including name and address) as sensitive, and store or dispose of them securely.
Consider the information that you put out over the internet. Personal information may include a date of birth, phone numbers, addresses of where you have lived previously and even your account details.
You can reduce the risk of having your personal information stolen or misused by not sharing personal information on social networking sites.
What you can do
Identity fraud can be stressful to the victim and their family, time consuming and costly to fix.
If you have concerns about identity fraud or believe someone has applied for credit in your name, contact us immediately on 132 888 or refer to reputable websites, such as scamwatch.gov.au or equifax.com.au.
Internet banking fraud
Internet banking fraud is when an unauthorised person accesses your internet banking to get personal details or transfer funds from your account.
Internet banking fraud can happen when you’ve been the victim of a scam or your computer has been infected with malware. It can also happen if someone other than you has access to your login details – this includes your family and friends.
Sometimes a third party can access your internet banking without your knowledge but not take any money. They do this for various reasons, including to check stolen details or to use your personal information to steal your identity.
You can avoid internet banking fraud by:
- ensuring you choose strong passwords
- using a different password for your internet banking than what you use for other sites
- checking the log-in information on the welcome page of internet banking which shows you the most recent activity using your log-in details
- maintaining good computer and mobile phone security
- never using ‘auto-complete’ for internet banking
- never telling anyone else your log-in details, even if you know the person well
- never using internet banking on public computers or on an unsecured internet connection (including free WiFi)
- telling us immediately if you see a log-in record, transfer or transaction on your account that you didn’t process
- not becoming a phishing victim
- being familiar with the security features of internet banking
- using a token.
If you’re concerned about the security of your internet banking, please call us on 132 888.
Fraudsters still use mail theft as a way of getting your personal information and stealing your identity. Make sure your mailbox is secure.
Clear out old advertising material from your letterbox because this tells a thief that you’re not home.
You can protect your mail by:
- keeping your mailbox locked
- making sure the opening to your mailbox isn’t big enough for a hand to fit through
- immediately telling your bank and other important organisations when you’re moving house, and arranging a mail hold or mail redirection to your new address
- arranging for someone you trust to clear your mailbox when you’re away from home or unable to collect your mail
- arranging for Australia Post to hold your mail if you’re going away and don’t have anyone to clear your mailbox for you
- where possible, signing up for email notifications, such as Bank Australia eStatements and BPAY view
- considering Australia Post’s ‘digital mailbox’ service.
For more information about mail theft and Australia Post services, visit auspost.com.au.
If you believe your mail is being stolen or redirected without your permission, contact Australia Post.
If you suspect someone has stolen your identity, report it immediately to your local police and bank.
Cheque fraud is still popular with some fraudsters and cheques offer many ways for fraudsters to steal money. Cheque fraud can involve personal cheques and those issued by businesses, banks and government departments.
‘Washing’ cheques involves removing genuine information (often by using chemicals) and replacing details, such as the payee name or the amount.
Fraudsters can hide cheque theft by removing one or more cheques from the middle of the cheque book and the cheque stub.
You can protect your cheques by:
- treating your cheque book like cash and keeping it in safe location
- checking that all the cheques you’re writing are in sequential order (the numbers follow each other logically)
- telling us immediately if your cheque book is lost or stolen or if individual cheques are missing
- regularly reconciling your cheque book. If there are amounts that do not match, contact us on 132 888.
Lending fraud is where a person illegally obtains funds, including mortgages, credit cards and overdrafts. It can happen after an identity is stolen. Lending fraud can include:
- outright theft where the borrower has no intention of repaying the money
- non-disclosure of debts where the borrower deliberately does not advise of existing credit facilities they have when they apply for a new facility, or supplies false employment information
- supplying false identification information, including fabricated identities
- applying for credit using invalid or altered personal details, or using someone else’s information.
You can protect yourself against lending fraud by:
- checking your credit report at least once a year to make sure there are no listings on it that don’t belong to you
- considering signing up for a credit alert service. These alert you when someone has performed a credit check on you
- protecting your personal information from theft, including any information you have stored on a computer or mobile device
- securing your letterbox and making sure its opening can’t fit a hand
- making sure any credit application you complete is accurate. For instance, a $500 credit limit that has no money owing on it is still considered an existing credit facility and must be disclosed
- reporting a stolen identity to the police and your financial institutions
- contacting the main credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, and asking for a ban on your credit file.