Identity theft and fraud have become all too common, and with criminals using ever-more sophisticated techniques to steal sensitive data, you can't be too careful. In this post, we'll be exploring how to protect yourself and what to do if it happens to you.
What is identity fraud?
Identity fraud happens when someone unlawfully uses your personal information, like your name, address, or date of birth, with the intention of either stealing money from you or gaining some other illicit advantages.
Identity thieves use different tricks to get your info:
Internet scams: They might send you fake emails or create fake websites on social media to make you give away your private details, including your credit card info.
Hacking your accounts: Some crooks use sneaky software to break into your devices or internet, so they can see what you're doing online.
Stealing your documents: They may take papers or find stuff online like your driver's license, bank statements, or offers for credit cards. They use these to do bad things in your name.
Is credit card fraud the same thing?
Credit fraud is a type of identity theft and simply put, it can wreck your financial future.
The fraudster typically uses the victim's personal information to open new credit card accounts, apply for loans, or engage in other financial transactions. The goal is simply to try and take your money or buy things without your permission.
This can hurt your credit score and make it tough to borrow money down the road.
Stay across your credit scores
Credit scores are generated by credit bureaus. Basically, they collect data relating to your history of borrowing and how good you are at paying your bills to paint a picture of your creditworthiness.
So, not to freak you out, but that means you actually have three credit scores in Australia. Each credit bureau is legally required to give you a free credit score check once every 12 months.
What should I look out for?
Credit is granted based on your credit score and the details in your credit report, so check that everything in your report is correct.
Red flags to keep an eye on:
Incorrect personal information
Accounts you don't remember opening
Credit checks that you haven't authorised
If anything seems fishy to you, contact the credit bureau immediately.
Signs of identity theft:
Unusual bills or bank charges
Receiving calls or texts about services you didn’t use
Increase in suspicious calls or texts
What to do if your identity is stolen
What else can I do to prevent fraud?
Aside from monitoring your credit report, there are a few other things you can do to protect yourself.
Firstly, make sure you have a strong password for each of your accounts.
It’s also a good idea to see if any of your personal information has been compromised already.
Monitoring your credit report might not be the most thrilling chore on your to-do list, but it's an essential one if you want to keep your finances and your identity safe.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information only, and is not general advice or personal advice. Wisr Services does not recommend any product or service discussed in this article. You must get your own financial, taxation, or legal advice, and understand any risks before considering whether a product or service discussed in this article may be appropriate for you. We have taken reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but the information is subject to change. We may not update the article to reflect any change.