Identify theft is a threat in every scam

August 27, 2018

Most people associate scams with attempts to trick you out of your money.  However, your information is also valuable to scammers. 

Scammers steal your personal details to commit fraudulent activities like making unauthorised purchases on your credit card or using your identity to open bank or telephone accounts.  They might take out loans or carry out other illegal business under your name.  They may even sell your information to other scammers for further illegal use. 

Having your identity stolen can be both financially and emotionally devasting.  It can take months to reclaim your identity and the impact of having it stolen can last for years. 

Phishing – a scammer contacts you out of the blue via email, phone, facebook or text message pretending to be from a legitimate business such as a bank, phone or internet service provider.  They direct you to a fake version of the business’s website asking for your personal details to verify customer records due to a technical error.   They may call imitating a luxury goods retailer claiming that someone is trying to use your credit card.  They advise you to contact your bank, but they don’t hang up from their end and keep the line open.  When you try to call the bank, you are still talking to the scammers who simulate a real call, imitate bank staff and ask for your account and security details.  In either case, the scammer captures whatever information you give them and then uses it to access your accounts. 

Fake Surveys – Scammers offer prizes or rewards such as gift cards to well-known retailers in return for completing an online survey.  The survey requires you to answer a range of questions including disclosure of important identification or banking details. 

As part of any scam – Scammers often ask for personal information in other scams.  In a lottery scam, scammers often ask for a driver’s licence or passport to prove your identity before they can release the prize money.  In dating and romance scams they might ask for information to sponsor their visa application to visit you in Australia. 

Remember – Giving away personal information to a scammer can be just as bad as giving away money.  Keep your personal details to yourself and keep them secure. 

Protect yourself 

  • Think Twice about what you say and do in an online environment.  Be careful sharing information about yourself online, including social media, blogs and other online forums.  Stop and think before filling in surveys, entering competitions, clicking on links or attachments or even befriending, liking or sharing something online. 

  • Beware of any request for your details or money.  Scammers will try to trick you into handling over your data by using the names of well-known companies or government departments.  If you think it’s a scam, don’t respond.  Use the phone book or an online search to check the organisations contact details.  Never use the contact details provided in the original request. 

If you have provided personal identification information to scammers, please contact IDCARE on 1300 432 273 

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