Identity theft is a fraud where someone pretends to be someone else and either steals money or gains some other benefit. It can have disastrous consequences but there are some simple steps which will lower the risk of you becoming a victim.
The simple steps which can assist you in protecting your identity are:
Credit File – Monitoring your credit file allows you to see whether any loans, credit cards, mobile phone plans etc have been opened in your name. You can fill in a form and apply for a free copy of your credit file here. It is also possible to sign up to a service which alerts you whenever changes occur on your credit file.
Post – You will reduce your risk considerably if you install a secure, lockable letterbox. When you move house arrange for all mail to be forwarded to your new address.
Computer – Paper based fraud is still the most common way for an identity to be stollen, however computer based id theft is growing. Installing security software and keeping it up to date will help protect you from hackers, scams and viruses. You should never open any attachments from an unreliable source.
Shred it… or regret it. Documents containing account details, dates of birth, tax file, Centrelink or Medicare numbers need to be shredded before being discarded.
The Australian Federal Police provides further information on id theft which can be found here.