ID Theft & Misuse Facts
There have been only a few reliable studies on the nature and impact of identity theft and misuse in Australia and New Zealand. The most recent was published by the Commonwealth Government from the work of the Australian Institute of Criminology (2014), which revealed:
- 9.4% of Australians reported the misuse of their personal information in the previous 12 months
- Approximately 18 hours is spent per person responding to the misuse of their personal information
- Approximately half of those impacted lost money (on average $4,100)
- Victims are from all walks of life, with the main form of identity theft and misuse involving financial information and credentials
- Almost two-thirds of Australians believe the risk of having their identity stolen will increase this year (Cwth Attorney-General’s Dept 2012)
- Almost a third of Australians who had their identity stolen did not receive any assistance in recovering from the event (Cwth Attorney-General’s Dept 2012)
Studies and trends from abroad reveal that approximately 8.8% of the people in the UK experienced identity fraud in 2012 (National Fraud Authority, 2013) and approximately 7% in the United States (Identity Theft Resource Centre).
The research on the impact of identity theft and misuse on the New Zealand community is even more scant. iDcare will be publishing the results of a 15 month investigation on the impact of identity theft and misuse across Australia and New Zealand in late 2014.
Protect your Identity
- Secure your personal documents at home, at your work, and when you travel.
- If you no longer need your personal information, destroy it safely – use a shredder.
- Secure your mailbox with a lock and when you move, redirect your mail.
- Be cautious about using social media and limit the amount of personal information you publish online.
- Regularly run your virus protection software for all devices connected to the Internet (mobile, tablet, laptop and computers).
- Regularly update your software and patches.
- Regularly change your passwords and use a combination of alpha-numerals and symbols.
- Learn how to avoid common scams by visiting SCAMWatch and your State/Territory consumer affairs and fair trading websites.
- Be cautious about requests for your personal information over the internet, phone and in person, in case it is a scam.
- Investigate the arrival of new credit cards you didn’t ask for or bills for goods and services that aren’t yours.
- Be alert for any unusual bank transactions or missing mail.
- Regularly check your credit file – you can order these from the three Australian and New Zealand credit bureaus for free (find out how here).
- If you travel, tell your financial institutions the dates you are travelling. Secure your travel documents – most passports are lost or stolen overseas!
- When purchasing products and handing over your credit card, always keep it in sight (that goes for any other credential or personal information).
- Don’t just accept it when someone asks for your personal information. Ask them why they need it, how they are going to store it, how long they are storing it for, where are they storing it. Don’t just accept the excuse “we need to under legislation” – ask what legislation. It’s your information. You carry the risk for their actions.
- If you believe your personal information has been put at risk, call iDcare (1300 432 273 AU / 0800 201 415 NZ).