Identity Crime

Identity crime is a critical threat to the Australian community. This crime type generates significant profits for offenders and causes considerable financial losses to the Australian Government, private industry and individuals.

Identity theft is the crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of another person for the sole purpose of assuming that person's name or identity to make transactions or purchases. Identity theft is committed in many different ways. Some identity thieves sift through trash bins looking for bank account and credit card statements; other more high-tech methods involve accessing corporate databases to steal lists of customer information. Once they have the information they are looking for, identity thieves can ruin a person's credit rating and the standing of other personal information.

Identity Crime Documents Money

Types of Identity Theft

Types of identity theft include criminal, medical, financial and child identity theft. In criminal identity theft, a criminal misrepresents himself as another person during arrest to try to avoid a summons, prevent the discovery of a warrant issued in his real name or avoid an arrest or conviction record. In medical identity theft, someone identifies himself as another person to obtain free medical care. In financial identity theft, someone uses another person's identity or information to obtain credit, goods, services or benefits. This is the most common form of identity theft.

In child identity theft, someone uses a child's identity for various forms of personal gain. This is common, as children typically do not have information associated with them that could pose obstacles for the perpetrator, who may use the child's name and Social Security number to obtain a residence, find employment, obtain loans or avoid arrest on outstanding warrants. Often, the victim is a family member, child of a friend or someone else close to the perpetrator.
Synthetic identity theft is a type of fraud in which a criminal combines real (usually stolen) and fake information to create a new identity, which is used to open fraudulent accounts and make fraudulent purchases. Synthetic identity theft allows the criminal to steal money from any credit card companies or lenders who extend credit based on the fake identity.

The list of things thieves can do with your personal information is frighteningly endless. This is a very serious matter that deserves constant attention. It’s incumbent on everyone to become educated on identify theft. Know how to spot it. Know how to prevent it.

Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.

Clues that someone has stolen your information

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
  • You don’t get your bills or other mail.
  • Merchants refuse your checks.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
  • A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
  • You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.

How identity is stolen

Identity thieves generally look for:

  • credit cards
  • bank cards and PINs
  • passport
  • driver’s licence
  • looking for personal documents
  • SIN card
  • taking personal information through public sources

Your identity may also be stolen from your online transactions. If you don’t change your passwords and strengthen your web security features regularly, it can become easy for someone to access your:

  • email (to steal personal and financial information, schedules etc.)
  • online shopping accounts (to steal credit card and address information)
  • banking accounts (to transfer funds, open new accounts or apply for loans)
  • credit card accounts (to shop and apply for new cards)
  • government accounts (to change your contact information on government IDs, access benefits, etc.)

If identity is stolen

To minimize any further incidences and to begin the process of clearing any harm done, you should:

  • keep a log of all your phone calls (write down the name of anyone you talked to, what he or she told you and the date your conversation occurred)
  • follow up in writing with contacts you’ve made on the telephone or in person to make sure you have a record of all agreements
  • make copies and keep all originals of supporting documentation, like police reports and letters to and from companies
  • keep old files even if you believe the case has been resolved, in case errors reappear on your credit reports or if old issues arise