Identity Theft – A Growing Concern
Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else's identity to steal money or gain other benefits. By October 2021, Scamwatch (scamwatch.gov.au) had already received 18,012 reports relating to identity theft this year alone.
Scammers will try and access your identity to perform one or more of the following:
- Access and drain personal or business bank accounts;
- Open new bank accounts in your name and take out loans or lines of credit;
- Take out phone plans and other contracts in your name:
- Purchase expensive goods in your name;
- Steal your (or your staff’s) superannuation;
- Gain access to your government online services;
- Access your email to find out more sensitive information; or
- Use your social media to access connections, friends and family member and target them.
If your identity has been stolen, you may not realise for some time. These are some signs to look out for:
- Unusual bills or charges that you don't recognise appear on your bank statement.
- Mail that you're expecting doesn't arrive.
- You get calls following up about products and services that you've never used or purchased.
- Strange emails appear in your inbox.
Hackers prey on vulnerable systems, computers and individuals to access personal and company information. The main guard for this is prevention, including individual and staff education, awareness and diligence. There are various ways that hackers can access your business or personal information, including:
- Social engineering, such as suspicious emails, social media messages or phone calls requesting personal information (for example tax file numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth etc).
- A data breach resulting in personal information including emails, passwords, bank accounts and ID, are stolen by a hacker.
To mitigate the risk of identity theft, you need to be alert, aware and informed. Also make sure you change passwords often or use Multi-factor authentication for logging in to websites, social media, banking and other important platforms (for more on this see our blog on Multi-factor authentication here.
If you are concerned, please consider our free cyber security assessment, which can include a dark web scan to determine if any of your digital identity has been ‘stolen’ from any databases. Sign up for this assessment here.
For an interesting resource on identity theft, Loyal I.T. has recently released a podcast on this topic, interviewing Anna Cruckshank from Aubrey Brown Lawyers, a business here on the Central Coast who was a victim of identity theft. Hear it, and lots of other interesting podcasts, at https://www.loyalit.com.au/podcast.html.