Understanding Identity Theft

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Understanding identity theft 

Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves the use of someone's personal information.  Identity theft can occur online or offline or a combination of both. Common credentials targeted includes driver licences, passports, Medicare cards and bank account details. 

Common signs of identity compromise and misuse
  • Lost or stolen identity credentials (e.g. passport, driving licence). 
  • Mail stops arriving at your address. 
  • Items appear on bank/credit card statements you don’t recognise.
  • Bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for goods or services you haven’t asked for. 
  • Debt collectors contact you regarding purchases or loans you did not make.

Responding to identity theft

Every case is different, but here are some general tips on what to do: 

  • Contact IDCARE to assess your risks and build a tailored response plan. 
  • Update and run anti-virus software on all Internet-enabled devices. 
  • Reset all passwords and PINs. 
  • Review where you keep your personal information on your devices, such as emails and hard drive and remove unnecessary items. 
  • Review your existing accounts. Look for unauthorised transactions, changes to settings (for example email forwarding rules), and, if possible, the times and locations your account has been accessed. 
  • Check your credit report to see if someone is accessing credit in your name. 
  • Contact your financial institution and let them know what has happened and ask how they can assist. 

Mitigating the risk of identity theft online 
  • ‍DO NOT open suspicious texts or emails – delete them. 
  • Never send money, give credit card or online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust - and never by email. 
  • Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess, and update them regularly. 
  • Secure your networks and devices with antivirus software and a good firewall. 
  • Be cautious when using social media and limit the amount of personal information you publish online. 
  • Be cautious about requests for your personal information over the internet. 

Mitigating the risk of identity theft offline 
  • ‍Secure your personal documents at home and when travelling. 
  • Put a lock on your mailbox and destroy any documents containing personal information not required. 
  • Be cautious about requests for your personal information over the phone and in person. 
  • Order a free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting agency, available every three months.
  • Regularly check your bank and superannuation statements. 
  • Be curious about where your information goes that is collected by organisations – you have a right to know why they are collecting it, how they will secure it, for how long they will keep it, whether they will share it. 

For additional support or information, contact IDCARE by submitting a Get Help Form or call 1800 595 160 (Aus) or 0800 121 068 (NZ).


Identity Care Australia & New Zealand Ltd (IDCARE) provides identity and cyber security incident response services (the Services) in accordance with the following disclaimer of service:

  • IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber incident community support service. IDCARE is a not-for-profit and registered Australian charity.
  • The Services provided do not constitute legal advice. IDCARE recommends that you consult your own legal counsel in relation to your legal rights and obligations, including but not limited to your legal rights or obligations under Australian and international privacy and data protection laws.
  • While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the content provided, to the maximum extent permitted by law all conditions, terms, representations, and warranties (in each case, whether express or implied) in connection with the provision of the Services which might otherwise be binding upon IDCARE are excluded.
  • IDCARE’S liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person or organisation (including, without limitation, any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage) arising out of or in connection with the Services (including without limited liability for any negligent act or omission, or statement, representation or misrepresentation of any officers, employees, agents, contractors or consultants of IDCARE) shall be limited to the fees paid by you to IDCARE in respect of the Services. For the avoidance of doubt, this limitation of liability extends to any liability arising from any actions performed or not performed as a result of any recommendations made in the course of providing the Services.
  • If you would like to provide feedback please use our Feedback Form.


IDCARE is here to provide you with specialist support and guidance when faced with a cyber and identity related issue. Contact one of our Identity & Cyber Security Case Managers to learn more about our Support Services and how we can help you.   

Get help

Submit a web request

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1800 595 160

Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm AEST

QLD: 07 3555 5900
ACT & NSW: 02 8999 3356
VIC: 03 7018 2366
NT, SA & WA08 7078 7741

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call our NEW ZEALAND

0800 121 068

Mon - Fri: 10am - 7pm NZST

AKL: 09 884 4440