Estimates by the Attorney-General’s Department indicate that identity crime costs Australia upwards of $1.6 billion each year.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the theft or assumption of a pre-existing identity using stolen personal information. Identity crimes are those activities carried out by a perpetrator using the identity they have stolen.
What does a criminal do with your personal information?
We most often think of criminals running up debts using stolen credit card details, and this is indeed very common. However, criminals can also apply for loans, driving licences, benefits, passports, mobile phones and even jobs using your personal information.
The Australian Federal Police recommend the following to reduce the risks of having your personal information stolen or misused:
- shred or destroy your personal and financial papers
- secure your mail box with a lock and make sure mail is cleared regularly
- always cover the keypad at ATMs or on EFTPOS terminals when entering your PIN, and be aware of your surroundings.
- ensure that the virus and security software on your computers and mobile devices is up-to-date and current
- don’t use public computers (for instance, at an internet café), or unsecured wireless ‘hotspots’, to do your internet banking or payments
- be cautious of who you provide your personal and financial information to—ensure that there is a legitimate reason to supply your details.
- only use trusted online payment websites
- regularly review your bank statements and obtain a copy of your credit history report.
- ask your bank or financial institution for a credit or debit card with an embedded ‘micro-chip’—they are more secure than cards with only magnetic stripe
Regular shredding of your sensitive documents is a vital step in identity theft prevention.
Sydney Shred will provide you with a security certificate of destruction once your documents have been securely shredded.
See our document shredding page to order a security bin.
For other useful tips about preventing identity theft, refer to protecting your identity resources, published by the Attorney-General’s Department.