Identity Theft: A Guide To Recovery
How To Know If You’ve Fallen Victim To Identity Theft:
It is a sad truth that identity crime is quite a common occurrence with the Australian Government stating that 1 in 5 Australians have fallen victim to identity-related crimes at some stage. Identity theft is a potentially extremely damaging crime because targets of such attacks sometimes do not know they have been targeted for a significant period of time, meaning that victims can experience damages of a greater extent than they initially realise. For this reason, it is extremely important to watch out for common warning signs, such as:
- Receiving calls or mail from debt collectors on debts you are not expecting or are unfamiliar with;
- Unanticipated and sudden denial of credit cards;
- Receiving credit cards or other goods in the mail that you did not order.
What To Do If You Fall Victim To Identity Theft:
If you suspect that you haven become a target of identity crime, the following steps may assist in minimising any financial (or other) damages experienced.
2. Ensure you keep a record of all your report information, as well as a reference number and contact relating to your case (i.e. the date lodged, who you spoke with etc). This is important, as some organisations require detailed statutory declarations to support your claim.
3. Contact the government or organisation that issued the identity credentials that have been stolen from you. Identity credentials include anything that can be used to identify you, such as your credit cards, driver’s license, or digital credentials such as passwords and usernames.
4. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately and cancel all cards and accounts that may have been breached. It is advisable that you also ask the credit-reporting agency for an alert to be placed on your file so you are notified of requests for credit, thus protecting yourself from future theft.
5. Get a copy of your credit report. By contacting a credit-reporting agency you can check for any unauthorised transactions. If you did not have an alert on your account beforehand ask the agency to place an alert on your file so that you are notified of requests for credit in the future.
6. Contact the relevant credit providers and businesses to close all fraudulent, unauthorised or breached accounts opened in your name. This may include phone and utility providers, department stores, financial institutions, social networks and email accounts.
7. Check that your mailing address hasn’t changed. Contact Australia Post (www.auspost.com.au) to check that a redirect hasn’t been placed on your mail. You should also check with businesses and government agencies you deal with that your address hasn’t been changed without your permission.
8. Consider whether you may need a Victim’s Certificate. A Victim’s Certificate may help you to overcome problems in your personal and business affairs caused by identity crime.
9. Consider whether legal assistance would be valuable. If you need legal assistance as a victim of an identity crime, the website www.accesstojustice.gov.au has a postcode based search tool for information about relevant legal and related services in your local area.
10. And finally; if you are targeted by a crime of this nature and are feeling overwhelmed or worried that you have not addressed everything required please contact the iDcare victim support centre. This is a free victim support service that provides advice on minimising the damage and recovering from this type of crime. Call their toll-free line on 1300 432 273 or visit www.idcare.org
Finally, remember, “The best offence is a good defense” - by making sure you are not an easy target for these crimes you remove a great deal of the risk. Read our previous blog post on preventing identity c