What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when criminals use stolen or assumed identities to commit fraudulent activities such as finance applications in your name!
It can also involve creating a new identities, false identity, or using stolen personal details to impersonate someone else.
Criminals use your identity with details such as your name, date of birth, and address. If your identity is stolen it can take years to fix given the complex legal systems in place in Australia. No government agency or police department rushes these matters when investigating, regardless of your needs.
Once identity theft has occurred you may have additional problems such as employment, finance or renting/buying a house.
Identity theft criminals look to steal these type of details and items from you:
Purses, wallets, mail or mobile phones
Looking for personal details in mail left in rubbish or letter boxes.
Obtaining your tax file number during a bogus recruitment process.
A very obvious one, reading what you have shared on social networking!
Pretending to be from a bank offering assistance for completing personal documents.
Websites baiting you into clicking a link or attachment on a web link or email that captures your details.
There are many other uses and reasons criminals partake in identity theft, but the overriding motive is for financial gain.
How can I check if someone has ever used my personal details for a credit application?
Your credit history is a track record of applications amongst other things.
Checking your credit rating regularly ensures you are informed if anyone has tried to use identity theft as part of a finance application in your name.
For a small cost each year it is well worth keeping tabs on your credit file activity. You insure your house or car, why not protect your name and identity?
Never give your personal details to anyone soliciting products or services and only ever give your personal details to trusted sources which you have sought.
It may also pay to keep records of whenever you have provided your personal details to anyone at any time. That way you have a complete list of who your details have been disclosed to and, in the unfortunate event of identity theft you can provide police with this list which would prove to be invaluable for them in eliminating certain elements of an investigations.
If you feel you have been a victim of identity theft click here for the Australian Federal Police site which is extremely informative and directional for victims of such theft.