How To Spot If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

If your car or computer is stolen, you’ll know about it pretty quickly. But what about a stolen identity? It may not be as obvious, but look out for tell-tale signs which could indicate you or your company might be a victim. For example:

  • You start getting letters or bills in your name from companies which you are not familiar with – e.g. goods you haven’t bought, mobile phone contracts you were not aware of, letters about debts which are not yours
  • You stop getting bills or statements or general post which you normally receive on a regular basis
  • You are refused a financial service, such as a credit card or a loan, despite having a good credit history

What To Do If You Become A Victim?

For individuals

  • Report: The first step is to report the incident to your nearest police station. Report all lost or stolen documents, such as passports, driving licences, plastic cards, cheque books to the relevant organisation.
  • Cancel: If you have had your wallet or purse stolen, or if your personal information has been compromised, contact your bank and credit card providers immediately to cancel any cards.
  • Inform: Even if not all your accounts have been affected it is worth flagging the fact that you have been a victim of identity fraud to other lenders, banks etc. so they can monitor your accounts more closely and ensure that the thieves do not access these too.
  • Contact: Contact a credit reference agency and follow their suggested steps to resolve the situation and prevent it happening again. If you do discover transactions on statements or have loans or other financial products taken out in your name which you did not make, contact the provider immediately.
  • Retain: Keep all documentary evidence of fraud. Take notes, keep copies and police reports, get confirmation of conversations and actions in writing. Never send originals away in the mail – if documents are required by someone else, send photocopies.
  • Act: With police help, take action to clear criminal records. Your first point of contact is the police – you may have to undergo police routines of photographing and fingerprinting to establish that you are not the same person as the person who stole your identity and used it fraudulently. You may need to hire a lawyer – Legal Aid or the Law Society in your state or territory may be able to assist.
  • Prevent: Protect yourself moving forward. Take the necessary steps to mitigate future risk. Click here for Prevention Advice

For business

  • Report: Report the matter to the police immediately.
  • Notify: Contact your suppliers, vendors and partners to notify them of the incident.
  • Inform: If your customer or client details have been compromised, tell them. If someone has contacted them as a ‘representative’ then this is a strong indicator that this has happened.
  • Retain: Keep a record of all correspondence relating to the corporate ID fraud. You may need it to protect yourself and for any criminal investigations on your behalf.
  • Learn: If you had a risk management policy in place, review it. If you didn’t, then get one.
  • Prevent: Protect yourself moving forward. Take the necessary steps to mitigate your business from future risk. Click here for Prevention Advice.