Identity fraud, otherwise known as identity theft, identity crime or even cybercrime, is an ever-present risk we now live with throughout today’s modern society. With the average person now spending more time online and our personal data now identified as a more valuable trading commodity than oil, our exposure to identity fraud risk is increasing.
In this article, we provide an overview of the risks to look out for, what to do if you’ve fallen victim to identity fraud, and how to protect your online identity and personal information from future malicious cyberattacks.
Identity Fraud Explained
According to the Office Of The Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) identity fraud involves someone using another individual’s personal information without consent, often to obtain a benefit.
Once a scammer has your personal identity, they can use it for a variety of illegal reasons ranging from opening up a new bank account and obtaining credit, to applying for a credit card and spending someone else’s funds, or even setting up a fake passport to use when conducting illegal activity.
Spotting evidence of identity theft can be tricky as it can often be disguised well. If you’re seeing unusual charges on your bank statement, strange emails asking for your personal information, or you are receiving phone calls asking for feedback on products you’ve never tried, this may be the breadcrumb you need to identify a fraudulent issue.
A Growing Risk To Personal Data
Scammers are constantly coming up with creative and elaborate ways to obtain personal information from online browsers, and from the statistics outlined in this Eftsure article, these scams seem to be working as 1 in 15 people worldwide now suffer from identity fraud.
Closer to home, analysis carried out by the Australian Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department, estimated that identity crimes throughout the nation cost roughly $1.6 billion per year.
Since the initial outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were spikes in identity fraud behaviour with roughly half of all Australians receiving a fraudulent call/text asking for personal information, which was a 55% increase since before the pandemic.
We can also see from the Scam Statistics section on The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) website that, in terms of identity theft cases, Australian consumers lose the highest amount of funds on Mobile apps, whilst Phone Calls make up the highest volume of known reports, with the 35-44 year age group being the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and the most likely to lose money.
With statistics like these, it’s becoming increasingly essential to protect your online identity and to reduce your risk of falling victim to malicious attempts to steal your personal information.
What To Do If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
It’s important to note here that Scantek is not the go-to answer if you’ve fallen victim to identity fraud.
Whilst our Identity Verification software helps business owners verify personal data and authenticate documentation, responding to an identity theft scenario requires following up with unique authorities who are external to our business.
Here are our suggested pathways when reacting or responding to an identity theft situation in Australia.
- Report it to local authorities – Time is of the essence when dealing with identity theft so you should flag this immediately with the most relevant authority. Some examples include:
- Contact your local police station and provide as much information as possible
- ReportCyber – Raise a request via the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
- SCAMwatch – The ACCC’s online service for scam reporting/assistance
- Department Of Home Affairs – Australian immigration and customs border policy
- Tell your bank immediately – If there is a risk to your financial situation, it’s critical to raise the alert with your financial institution/provider as they will often have their own policy to take you through and a process for reversing the funds.
- Request a credit report – By requesting an updated credit report, you will be able to check your transaction history and prevent any new accounts being set up in your name, and you can even request a ban period on your credit report which limits activity on the account.
- Request A Victim’s Certificate – You can apply for a victim’s certificate from the Commonwealth here, which helps to support your claim and provides evidence and clarity around your case ahead of submitting it to your financial institution or government agency.
- Seek professional advice – There are a number of professional services available to help you navigate an identity fraud case, one of which is Australia’s national identity and cyber support service known as IDCARE
- Update your online information – This could be in the form of updating your passwords, changing your login details, creating a new email address and closing unauthorised accounts.
- Share the news – Tell your friends, family and colleagues about any breaches, especially if this means they’ve received any contact from your fake profile.
Limiting Your Identity Fraud Risk
Whilst future cyber-attacks for your identity and personal data are constantly imminent, especially in an increasingly digital world, there are ways you can limit your risk in future.
- Ensuring your keep your personal information as safe and protected as possible.
- Having strong passwords for your online accounts and changing them regularly.
- Activating Two Factor Authentication (2FA) on all devices, logins and services, in particular for your email and social media accounts.
- Maintaining stringent records of all financial spending including bank statements, receipts, tax returns and other financial documentation.
- Checking in on your financial statements regularly to identify rogue transactions.
- Keeping personal information (like your date of birth) private or secure on public forums like social media.
- Having an up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer and devices with regular updates and scans being run to identify any risks or phishing attacks.
- Keeping your personal data safe and secure when dealing with any external parties.
- Being mindful of doing any sensitive browsing whilst using public Wi-Fi hotspots in case they are not secure.
These are just some ways to mitigate your identity fraud risk, and with a bit of common sense, you can stay on top of future risks by being careful and considered with any online transactions.
The Risks Of Identity Theft In Social Media
Cybercriminal activity is on the rise, and one of the target areas of concern is social media.
Whilst most of us have active social media accounts, where we share content and information in public forums, groups, pages and profiles, this can present an evident opportunity to cyber criminals looking to steal your identity due to the personal information being published.
By simply owning a social media account and periodically posting information publicly, you are opening yourself up to identity fraud risks, so it’s never been more important to mitigate your risk by following the above best practise recommendations.
Be Smart About Your Personal Data
The increasing risk of identity crime in our digital society is something to be very mindful of when browsing on any device, however, as outlined above, there is ample support and guidance available to consumers.
By being considered and smart with your online browsing behaviour, and leaning on professional bodies in times of need, you can ensure your personal data will stay safe and protected throughout the digital economy.
If you are a business in need of an easy solution to ensure your customers are who they say they are, we welcome you to check out our unique Identity Verification software.