Real Life Stories 

Jill, an international student, had been working part-time while studying in Australia.

When it came time to lodge her income tax return she wasn’t sure of what to do. But instead of phoning the Tax Office or a registered tax agent, she accepted an offer of help from Ram, another international student.

She gave Ram her TFN and other personal details so he could complete her tax return, which she then lodged with the Tax Office and received a tax refund.

But once she left Australia, Ram used her TFN to lodge false tax returns and open bank accounts in her name.

Fortunately the Tax Office detected the false returns and Ram was arrested. During his trial the court heard he also lodged false tax returns for other international students who had left Australia and used accounts opened in their names to get hold of their tax refunds.

Ram was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years jail and had to pay back the money he claimed.

Meanwhile Jill returned to work in Australia and found she had problems using her TFN as a result of Ram’s crimes. It caused her considerable stress constantly having to prove her identity had been misused.

Susan is a senior public servant in the NSW Government. One weekend in February 2011 she received a message from her bank and was asked to contact them urgently as they had detected unusual activity on her credit card account.

Between the period of 10:00am and approximately 10:15am over $8,100.00 had been expended in $1,016.45 lots in gambling dens in the United Kingdom and Luxemburg. All of this was occurring unbeknown to Susan who was at the time facedown on a treatment table at her physio.

Within fifteen minutes of the commencement of fraudulent activity the bank fraud detection software had identified the pattern, checked her background, assessed likelihood and risk, and temporarily frozen the account and made contact.

The early diagnosis of the problem was a probable trojan requiring a very thorough scan and cleanup of her home PC system.

Within five days she had lodged the formal statement of dispute regarding the transfer. It was not until five weeks later that the entire matter was finalised with reversal of payments and associated charges.

Prior to the incident, Susan had reconciled her accounts reasonably regularly but this experience had resulted in her being far more attentive to what is actually happening on her account. Susan now makes sure her security software is up to date at all times and is extra vigilant about making purchases online using secure payment sites.

Peter had his briefcase containing his wallet and cheque book stolen when he was shopping one day in Melbourne’s CBD. His wallet contained his driver’s licence, credit cards and Medicare card.

He reported the theft to police and advised his bank immediately of the loss of his cards and cheque book. He never expected to see his belongings again so he began the process of replacing his possessions. Two days later, his briefcase was found abandoned in the city with his papers and (empty) wallet but the cards and chequebook had gone.

Peter thought nothing about it until two weeks later when he got a phone call from an electrical store saying that a cheque that he used to buy a coffee machine recently had bounced and he needed to transfer money to the store.

Peter explained that his cheque book had been stolen and that thieves must have used one of his cheques. The shop person didn’t believe him and said he would give him two days to provide the money or he would turn the matter over to debt collectors. Over the next 12 months, Peter was phoned, written to and harassed by numerous people, either from shops or from debt collection agencies.

Because he had reported his credit cards and cheque book stolen, Peter was protected from having to pay the debts run up by the thief but the harassment from debt collectors was relentless and intimidating. His credit rating was affected and it took some time for it to be corrected.