Identity theft is of major concern to the Australian Federal Government and it should be of concern to you too…
Because there was more than $2,000,000,000 (two billion dollars) in known losses caused by Identity Theft in 2005 alone.
This has risen dramatically since then and is likely to continue to rise until average everyday people start to protect their privacy.
There are a number of things you can do initially to lessen the likelyhood of you becoming a target of Identity Theft:
- Completely destroy any information that may have your personal details on it (Before it’s thrown away) – such as electricity or phone bills, credit card statements, bank statements, rates notices etc.
- Don’t give out personal information by email or on social networking sites unless you are sure of the identity of the person at the other end of the conversation.
- Never give out personal information over MSN and other Chat Programs as the security of these types of services has been breached a number of times.
- Check your accounts and records carefully for anything that you don’t remember doing, like a few ‘small’ transactions on your credit card (these can often be ‘test’ charges)
- When disposing of personal information (Like statements and bills) make sure they are shredded, burnt, cut up into tiny pieces or in some way completely destroyed to ensure the information can not be ‘found’ in your rubbish.
One quick way to see if you might have been targeted for possible Identity Theft is to get an up to date copy of your credit file.
There are a number of agencies out there that will supply you with a copy of your credit file from within one day to 2 weeks. There is also one known firm that will guarantee you a copy of your credit file in less than 3 business hours. That firm is MyCra.com.au
Once you have a copy of your credit file, have a look through and make sure you personally have made each and every application for credit that is listed on your credit file.
And YES, every time you make an application for a credit card, mobile phone, electricity account, home phone, interest free purchase or any other kind of finance, it will be listed and recorded on your credit file.
If there are any unknown applications or enquiries, you should begin the process to find out ‘what the heck is going on’.
There are a number of resources available that you might like to look at:
• Consumer Affairs Division – Department of the Treasury (http://www.ecommerce.treasury.gov.au/)
• Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs (http://www.consumer.gov.au/)
• Net Alert (http://www.netalert.net.au)
• Australasian Centre for Policing Research (http://acpr.gov.au)
Further information and reading can also be found at www.MyCra.com.au