Roughly 5% of Australians have been a victim of cybercrime. That means more than 772,000 people have experienced identity theft in the past 12 months alone. A study conducted by credit bureau Veda in 2015, shows that almost 1 in 5 Australians (17% of the population) have had their personal information stolen at some stage. This has resulted in a surge of paranoia across the country, with 4 in 5 people – 82% of people saying they were in fear of their personal information being stolen.
Identity theft is a fraudulent practice where another individual’s identifiable information is used without their consent. With this information, the thief can open up store accounts, bank accounts, or use the information to obtain finance or credit. If someone obtains your personal information, they can use your name to make purchases or dispose of assets (such as your car, property or business). They can also enter financial commitments; or even into binding contracts (such as a fraudulent marriage). Common targets of an identity thief are mobile phone contracts, loan accounts, credit card accounts, vehicle loans and home loans.
In this scenario, the thief impersonates somebody else to conceal their own true identity. This is predominately utilised by identity thieves to remain anonymous or to duplicate someone else’s identity.
When a criminal fraudulently identifies himself to the police as another individual at the point of arrest, it is sometimes referred to as criminal identity theft. This can lead to numerous ramifications such as receiving court judgements, traffic violations and/or other registered infringements as a result of the criminal identity theft. The main issue with regards to this type of identity theft is how to manage the problems going forward and clear the victim’s name.
Credit-related identity theft is the most common form of identity theft. Thieves utilise the identity of a person in order to access credit or attempt to acquire more sensitive information from financial institutions. They will either target existing credit providers, or they will open up new credit facilities at banks, retail stores, and other facilities in that person’s name.
Medical Identity theft occurs when someone uses a person’s name or other elements of their identities. For example, insurance information without the person’s knowledge or consent to obtain medical services, or other related services or goods. Although this does not seem to be a common risk in Australia, it is believed to be on the rise.
This is common in Australia and falls within the main definition of identity theft. Thieves gain access to private mail via theft from post boxes, theft from rubbish bins and also from internal mail theft. They then utilise the information to gain access to credit or other related financial instruments for their own benefit.
You should always remain vigilant and carry out simple security checks to protect yourself. With all online transactions, such as shopping or using social media websites, make sure you are cognizant of the fact there may be people looking over your shoulder when you least expect it. Be precautionary, and always aware how vulnerable we all can be.
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