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This is not advice. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. The information contained in these articles is for guidance only and should not be relied upon without obtaining professional advice having regard to your direct circumstances.


Tips to protect your identity

Australians lose over $2.2 billion a year from thieves that use other people’s personal information to borrow money or incur debt.

How to overcome a phenomenon that is on the rise in Australia

It is estimated that Australians lose over $2.2 billion a year through identity theft. This is where your personal details are stolen and the criminal uses them to borrow money or incur debts in your name. By the time you discover the problem, the thief is gone with the goods bought in your name. You are left with the debts to repay, a damaged reputation and the inconvenience of having to restore your credit rating.

Avoiding identity theft is partly a matter of common sense. For instance,
• Signing your credit or debit cards immediately and never letting anyone know your PIN.
• Keeping credit card slips and checking them against your statements.
• Changing your PIN and internet password often.
• Reporting lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
• Keeping your personal details and bank account details secure.

However, here are some other ideas to consider:
• Take out all the contents of your wallet or purse and copy it all - back and front. Keep the copy in a safe place (not in your wallet) together with the phone numbers of your banks and credit card issuers. Now you are prepared to report a loss quickly.
• Sign your credit card and print in bold letters next to your signature "Requires photo ID". This will prevent the thief using your card in shops (but not online or over the phone).
• Put a lock on your mailbox to prevent mail being stolen.
• Report stolen property to the police. This shows credit providers you were diligent and it enables an investigation to start.
• If you lose a credit card and are concerned someone may have stolen your identity, report the details to the major credit agencies. If anyone tries to get credit using your ID, the credit provider will contact one of the agencies and find out about your report. They will contact you personally.
• Ensure your bank and credit provider have your up to date contact information. Computer systems are becoming more sophisticated and banks can often detect unusual buying patterns. If they can contact you promptly, they will be able to put a stop on the card.
• If you buy over the internet, have a credit card with a low credit limit just for that purpose. This will put a cap on how much can be stolen.
• If you are asked for your driver's licence as ID show it but don't let anyone write the details down. Your licence is a de-facto national ID card.

The growth of electronic banking has provided thieves with new avenues to separate you from your cash and credit. Common sense and vigilance can reduce the risk of it happening to you.

AMP Connections Online
Winter 2008


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