Your identity is a valuable asset that you use for some of the most important events in your life. Going overseas, buying a house or getting married? It’s hard to do if you can’t prove who you are.
Your identity is also valuable to criminals as they can use it to apply for credit in your name; open a bank account in your name and apply for any benefits you may be entitled to, such as tax credits or income support.
So how do we take steps to protect ourselves from this criminal activity and avoid the potential problems that can arise? Here are 5 tips for protecting yourself against identity theft:
1. Limit the personal details that you post on social media: Although it’s always nice to get that barrage of birthday messages, think about restricting the visibility of personal details like your birthdate, email address, home address or telephone number. Too often, it’s easy for scammers to use these details to reset your password on other websites!
Review your privacy settings for each platform. For example, Facebook’s ‘Privacy Settings and Tools’ dictates who can see your posts and look you up on Facebook – and keep your passwords separate. Don’t use the same password for Instagram, Twitter or Facebook that you also use for your banking or email accounts. Having a different password for different sites will mean that if one account is compromised, not all of your accounts are at risk!
2. Secure your mailbox: Letters and bills are full of personal details, so keep them away from prying eyes by installing a lock on your mailbox, and picking up your mail regularly.
3. Protect your PC: Reduce the likelihood of criminals hacking into your PC and accessing your personal documents by installing anti-virus software and updating it regularly.
4. Destroy your personal documents before disposal: It’s easy for criminals to rummage through your rubbish bin on the street, so use a shredder to destroy anything containing your personal details.
5. Be careful about responding to requests via email or phone to provide personal details: It could be a scam – if you are in any way suspicious ignore or delete the request.
How do you know if you are a victim?
You might notice something unusual turn up in the mailbox such as a new credit card or bill for a new mobile phone that you are unfamiliar with; you may apply for a loan and get an unexpected decline; you may notice unusual transactions on your account; perhaps you are entitled to certain government benefits but are advised that you have already received them – these are just some indications that you are a victim of identity theft.
If you suspect someone is using your identity, report the matter to the police and contact your bank and any other institutions where you believe your identity has been used. It may also be a good idea to request your credit report as this will indicate if your identity has been used to apply for loans in your name.
For more information visit the Attorney-General’s Department website
The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Deposit products, savings products, credit card and home loan products are issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. ING Living Super (which is part of the ING Superannuation Fund ABN 13 355 603 448) is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. The insurance cover offered by ING Living Super is provided by Metlife Insurance Limited ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL 238096. ING Home and Contents Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Limited (AGIC) ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL Licence No 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd (AGS) ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 and by ING as an Authorised Representative AR 1247634 of AGS. All applications for credit are subject to ING's credit approval criteria, and fees and charges apply. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Terms and Conditions, Fees and Limits Schedule, Financial Services Guide, Key Facts Sheet and Credit Guide available at ing.com.au when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms https://www.ing.com.au/pdf/Social_Media_User_Terms.pdf.