Protect yourself from ID fraud

Nearly half a million Australians were victims of identity fraud last year.
 
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07.What the experts say and contacts

Most of us probably don’t take the possibility or the consequences of identity fraud very seriously — but the experts CHOICE spoke to for this article certainly do.

  • “Treat your identity like cash, because if you don’t, your identity will be turned into cash.” Warren Gray, National Manager, Economic Operations, Australian Federal Police.
  • “Credit card fraud results in an immediate, but temporary, financial loss. Identity theft is much more serious as the effects may be long-term and go beyond pure financial loss. When somebody has stolen your identity, they can take out a mortgage, have credit cards issued and commit crimes, all in your name.” Dan Svantesson, Associate Professor of Law at Bond University, and Australian Privacy Foundation board member.
  • “Hacking of databases containing personal information is definitely a big threat to privacy. But there are also other ways to steal somebody's identity. With the amount of sensitive personal information people voluntarily make available on online networking websites, such as MySpace and Facebook, they may become vulnerable to identity theft." Dan Svantesson.
  • “E-commerce spending is growing at three to four times the rate of offline spending, and this is very attractive to organised crime.” Nick Ellsmore, CEO of IT security company SIFT.
  • "If the malicious code has installed a back door, gained administrator level access or changed system files, then the integrity (not to mention confidentiality or availability) of your system has been fundamentally damaged. This means you can no longer trust the operating system, applications or data files.” AusCERT, Australia’s national ‘Computer Emergency Response Team’, a not-for-profit team of IT security professionals based out of the University of Queensland.
  • “It’s a very sophisticated full-service economy.” Graham Ingram of AusCERT, talking about trafficking of credit card and other personal data over the internet.
  • “The time has come to treat our identities as seriously as our car keys or house keys.” Stephen Wilson, Lockstep Consulting, a company that helps organisations with ‘identity management’, including combating identity fraud.
  • “Old-style fraud requires more effort and greater risk. In a connected world, fraud is easier, faster and has fewer barriers to entry,” says Benn Dullard of Eunexus, a consultant specialising in online banking fraud prevention. “Fraud occurs across multiple products. It can be very difficult to identify the original point of compromise.”

Useful contacts

To check your credit file (contact all the relevant organisations):

 

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