Identity Theft – What is it and how can it be avoided?

Identity theft occurs where a criminal obtains the personal details of an individual to masquerade as that individual and, typically; transfer funds, obtain cash, secure loans and other financial benefits.

The individual is then left to deal with the debts so incurred, along with the associated legal implications.Identity theft can occur when a fraudster gets access to your personal information such as your date of birth, your address, your drivers licence number and information from utilities, phone and credit union/bank account records.

This can be obtained through:

  • Email scams such as those mentioned here
  • Similar telephone scams; and
  • Theft of your records and/or mail.

To avoid identity theft we advise our members should:

  • Keep responsible care of all personal information to minimise the risk of loss/theft (e.g. by keeping tax records and other financial documents in a safe place);
  • Minimise the risk of mail theft by securing your mailbox (e.g. with a padlock);
  • Cancel unused credit union/bank/utility/phone accounts;
  • Securely dispose of any documents that may contain personal details (such as account statements, credit card transaction slips, bills, etc.);
  • Regularly obtain a copy of your personal Credit File to make sure there is no unusual activity on your file; and
  • Promptly report to the police any loss or theft of personal documents.

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