Identity fraud is a significant threat to Australian consumers, costing more than one billion dollars in losses each year. Identity thieves are able to use your personal details for financial gain, such as using your credit card information to make purchases and applying for a credit card, loan or mobile phone contract in your name – without paying for it. This can result in massive debts and black marks on your credit history that could worsen if you don’t stay on top of your financial situation. So how can you combat identity fraud?
At a time where identity thieves are getting smarter about stealing your personal information, particularly online, it’s not enough to just check your credit report just before you apply for credit or after a credit application rejection. While obtaining a one-off copy of your credit report can ensure lenders are getting a balanced picture of your financial health, continually checking your credit report at regular intervals can help you flag potentially fraudulent activity, such as attempts to open credit accounts in your name.
Other signs you might be a victim of identity fraud include receiving bills or statements from credit providers you aren’t aware of or a significant drop-off in the volume of mail you receive, as it may mean identity thieves are stealing or redirecting your mail.
D&B offers a credit alert service that will notify you when information on your credit report changes. An alert service is the most effective way of improving your ability to detect possible instances of identity theft and gives you peace of mind by keeping you updated on where you stand with your credit history. Sign up here »
Additional tips to safeguard yourself against identity fraud include:
- checking your financial statements regularly
- avoid passing on personal details to people you don’t know as they could be scammers
- dispose of sensitive information safely
- change your account passwords regularly and don’t choose easily guessable passwords such as your date of birth
- don’t give too much information away on social networking sites
- install firewalls and anti-virus software on your computer
- do not use public computers for banking or payment activities
If you believe someone has fraudulently used your personal information, you should:
- call D&B to tell them about the identity theft and ask them to put a ban in place, which only they can do
- contact your local police station.
The initial ban period is 21 days, but can be extended if needed. During the ban period, D&B may not share your credit report unless you provide consent in writing or if required by law. If a credit provider requests your credit report to assess your application for credit, D&B will explain there is a ban in place and will not provide the report to the credit provider unless you have consented in writing.