With our accrescent use of the internet for sensitive applications such as banking, government records and commerce, the risk of identity theft is on the rise. Unfortunately, this crime often has devastating consequences for its victims – if the wrong hands get hold of your personal information, it is not just your identity that can be stolen but also your money, property and reputation.
If you suspect identity theft in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom or almost any other country, please book a consultation with IFW to commence an investigation as soon as possible. Our skilled investigators will uncover evidence to help you identify, stop and prosecute the culprit. We can also advise you who to contact and if required, notify the authorities and your financial institution of your efforts to overcome this crime.
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Tackle all four types of identity theft in Australia and across the globe
Criminal identity theft in Australia occurs when an accused offender adopts an innocent person’s identity with the aim of evading arrest and charges. This type of fraud may be challenging, but not impossible, to prove and combat.
Financial identity theft is the most common form of this fraud and involves using the victim’s information to gain access to their funds. This can be achieved with a myriad of scams, such as stealing credit card details or acting as a financial institution to obtain sensitive information.
Medical identity theft in Australia is evident when a culprit pretends to be someone else whilst seeking healthcare services, for example, to access insurance coverage. The thief’s treatment is included in the victim’s medical records, which can result in serious consequences, such as misdiagnosis, in the future.
In the case of child identity theft, a criminal uses a minor’s personal information for all sorts of gain – from establishing a line of credit to purchasing property. The child’s identity is viewed as particularly valuable because it is likely a blank slate with no associated information yet.
Identity theft in Australia is a major facilitator of serious and organised crime, costing victims approximately $15 billion per year.
The warning signs of identity theft
While identity theft comes in many forms, there are certain red flags to watch out for.
- Your bank or credit card statements are displaying items you do not recognise;
- Bills, invoices or receipts are being sent to you for purchases you did not make;
- A government agency informs you of a government benefit you did not apply for;
- Lenders decline your applications because of a poor credit history due to debts you have played no part in;
- Solicitors or debt collectors send you letters of demand for debts you have not incurred;
- Mail you usually receive stops arriving, or you receive no post at all;
- You can no longer log into your social media accounts or email; or
- Organisations you have never dealt with begin to contact you.
Identity theft experts with a proven track record
Experts in identity theft in Australia and around the world, our investigators, analysts and researchers are renowned for gathering evidence and cracking down on criminals. We are highly experienced in resolving complex cases with exceptional efficiency.
With direct access to local databases, expert witnesses in cyber fraud, and a network of confidential informants, IFW takes a driven and dynamic approach to investigating even the most sophisticated identity theft scams in foreign jurisdictions.
IFW has unparalleled experience liaising with state, federal and international law enforcement agencies. Our investigators can also join forces with local and foreign correspondent lawyers to uncover money trails and hidden assets in nearly any country.
Our investigators provide a comprehensive brief of evidence for use in criminal proceedings in the appropriate jurisdiction. Equipped with valid proof of identity theft, and the fraudsters responsible, you can take legal action to recover your losses.
IFW performs each identity theft investigation with the utmost professionalism, sensitivity and confidentiality. To ensure our clients’ privacy, every piece of personal data will be encrypted and no case details be disclosed without consent.
Frequently asked questionsTop
Identity theft involves using someone else’s personal information to steal money or gain other benefits fraudulently. Equipped with your details, the thief may attempt to:
- Use your credit cards or drain your bank account;
- Open new bank accounts or take out lines of credit in your name;
- Withdraw your superannuation;
- Collect sensitive information from your emails; or even
- Pose as you on social media, dating websites or other online platforms to scam other users.
Yes. Identity theft in Australia is a type of fraud that occurs when an offender steals their victim’s personal information to access money or other personal benefits, such as a passport, clean criminal record or insurance coverage.
To commit identity theft, a criminal may steal sensitive information, such as your:
- Full name;
- Place of birth;
- Date of birth;
- Home address;
- Passport information;
- Personal identifier such as a tax file number;
- Driver’s licence number;
- Credit card details;
- Health insurance details; and
- Bank account logins
Armed with your personal information, a criminal can access your:
- Online government portal, email and social media accounts; and
- Existing bank account and make purchases with your credit card.
But the damage does not always stop there. A thief can also apply for a:
- Credit card, loan or bank account in your name;
- Passport in your name;
- Government benefit in your name;
- Driving licence and register a vehicle in your name;
- Job in your name; and
- Mobile phone and/or other utility contracts in your name.
Consequently, this crime can wreak havoc on your life and should be reported as soon as you suspect any suspicious activity.
There are several measures you can take to help prevent identity theft:
Set highly-secure passwords
Only use long passwords that feature a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters and lowercase letters. Never use the same password for multiple accounts.
Shred all sensitive documents
If you want to throw away any letters that contain personal information, such as those sent by your bank, super fund or employer, make sure to shred them first.
Be wary of public computers
After using a public computer, always clear your internet history and log out of all accounts. Refrain from using shared or public WiFi whenever possible.
Don’t overshare on social media
Be conscious of what information you post on social media, especially if you have a public profile. Otherwise, fraudsters could learn where you live, work and more.
Use security software
Download virus protection software on your computer to prevent hackers from stealing your details if you click on a phishing fraudulent link or visit a scammer’s website.
Review your bank transactions regularly
Review your bank statements for unusual transactions frequently. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, discuss it with your bank as soon as possible.
Check your credit report
You can contact your credit reporting agency to request a copy of your credit report and check whether your personal details have been used fraudulently.
It is also possible to freeze access to your credit report, which would temporarily ban credit reporting agencies from supplying its information to credit providers while you recover from identity theft. This block won’t impact your current credit line or credit payments, so long as your credit card remains valid.
If you suspect that you have been targeted by identity thieves, you must follow the below steps immediately:
- Report the theft to your financial institution and social media platform provider so that each is informed and can help you take the appropriate next steps.
- Report the scam to the Police or via your national fraud reporting portal (for example: Australia – www.cyber.gov.au, USA – www.ic3.gov, UK – www.actionfraud.police.uk, Canada – www.antifraudcentre.ca)
- Notify your tax authority. For example, identity theft in Australia should be reported to the ATO as it is a tax-related security issue.
- Seek support from resources like IDCare for personal practical and behavioural support
- Update your online account passwords and shut down any unauthorised accounts.
- Contact IFW investigators for assistance in tracking down and stopping the culprit behind the crime. This is a sensitive, high-stakes process that demands the expertise and resources of investigative specialists.
Identity theft investigations typically take between one and three months. However, this time frame depends on your case’s complexity and whether or not legal action is involved.
Once the thief has been identified and located, IFW investigators can support law enforcement officials in filing search warrants and/or criminal charges against them – an often complicated procedure that can take considerable time to complete.
The cost of an identity theft investigation varies according to the complexity of the case, the damage incurred, and the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed.
At IFW, our investigators present a tailored proposal for each case, detailing the recommended budget to maximise the likelihood of a successful outcome.
The more admissible evidence we gather against the thief, the greater the likelihood that you will be able to take legal action and get your life back on track.
However, as a successful outcome is never guaranteed, IFW will conduct a preliminary assessment of your case to advise on the realistic chances of finding the criminal. Equipped with this expert insight, you can decide whether or not you wish to proceed with the investigation.