Fact sheet – Identity theft

Everyone who uses the internet is at risk of having their identity stolen.

You can talk to a lawyer for free at Tasmania Legal Aid.

To get for free legal information call 1300 366 611

A lawyer can help you with reporting identity theft to the authorities.

What is “Identity Theft”?

Identity theft is a type of cyber (online) crime. It occurs when a person (known as a ‘cybercriminal’) gets access to your personal information and uses it to steal money or for another illegal purpose. The cybercriminal might access your information from online accounts and banking services. Identity theft includes stealing a person’s name, date of birth, driver license number, address, credit card details, tax file number, and other personal information.

What can happen if my identity is stolen?

A cybercriminal can you use your stolen identity information for many things, including to:

  • Apply for a bank card in your name
  • Obtain a loan in your name
  • Apply for benefits (e.g., Centrelink) in your name
  • Apply for a driver license in your name
  • Register a vehicle in your name
  • Apply for a passport in your name
  • Apply for a contract (e.g., a mobile phone contract) in your name
  • Use your credit/debit card details to make purchases

How do I know my identity has been stolen?

The common signs of identity theft are:

  • Lost or stolen personal identity information (e.g. passport, ID card)
  • Missing or unreceived mail or letters
  • Unusual bank transactions
  • Bills for things you did not use or order.

What should I do if my identity has been stolen?

If your identity is stolen, you should:

  • Immediately change passwords to any online payment accounts
  • Contact your bank or credit card provider and inform them of the identity theft. Cancel any cards if needed
  • Contact the agency or organisation which provides your identification documents and inform them of the identify theft
  • Report the matter to the Australian Police
  • Consider applying for a victim’s certificate. This will substantiate your claim on being a victim of identity theft and help you with any difficulties suffered as a result of the identity theft.

Who can I speak to if my identity is stolen?

If your identity is stolen, you can contact SCAMWatch - a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). You can report identity theft on their website. Note that the ACCC is unable to help you recover money lost to a scam or assist in tracking down a scammer.

You can make a report to ReportCyber if you have had information or money stolen via a scam. This information may be forwarded to the Australian Police. Note that you should report a physical crime (stolen credit card, computer, etc) to the Police.

What are some things I can do to reduce the risk of having my identity stolen?

You can reduce the risk of having your identity stolen by:

  • Be cautious about suspicious links or calls or requests for information or other emails requesting for your personal information
  • Always call and check with the respective organisation if you are unsure if a link or message requesting for personal information is legitimate
  • For more information about scams, visit SCAMWatch
  • Regularly check your bank account and credit card statements
  • Ensure your mailbox is secured
  • Use the most secure privacy settings in social networking sites and be cautious about sharing too much personal information
  • Do not store credit card or any financial information on online merchant sites.

Last updated: 29-July-2022