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Online identity theft

Learn about online identity theft, how to protect yourself, and what to do if your identity is stolen.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is a type of fraud. It involves using someone else’s identity to steal their personal information, money or other benefits.

Someone committing identity theft might use someone else’s personal details to:

  • access existing bank accounts or credit cards
  • open new bank accounts and take out lines of credit
  • steal superannuation
  • access emails to find out sensitive information
  • impersonate them on social media, or dating websites or apps.

For more information about identity theft, visit the Scamwatch websiteExternal Link .

Advice to protect your personal information

To help protect your personal information, you should:

  • never open suspicious looking texts, emails or social media messages
  • never give credit card, account details or other personal documents to someone you don’t know or trust
  • never give strangers remote access to your computer
  • choose passwords that are hard for others to guess
  • be aware of the information you post online and who can see it
  • never log in to personal accounts using shared or public WiFi
  • remove all your personal information before selling or throwing away a computer, mobile phone or other digital device
  • secure networks and digital devices with anti-virus software and a firewall
  • regularly check your bank accounts for suspicious activity.

For more advice to protect yourself from identity theft, visit the Scamwatch websiteExternal Link .

What to do if your identity is stolen

If you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently online:

  • Let your bank or financial institutions know as soon as possible.
  • Change your account passwords.
  • Lodge a report through the Australian Cyber Security Centre's ReportCyberExternal Link . For information about making a ReportCyber report, visit report a cybercrime.
  • Visit the IDCARE websiteExternal Link or call 1800 595 160. IDCARE provides free, confidential advice to Australians who have concerns about their identity or cyber security.
  • Request a credit report from a reputable credit reporting body.

For more information about what to do if your identity is stolen, visit the Scamwatch websiteExternal Link .

What to do if you experience financial compromise

If you suspect you have been financially compromised, you should let your bank or financial institutions know as soon as possible.

You can also contact a credit reporting body to:

  • request a copy of your consumer credit report, and
  • ask for blocks against the use of your details.

Australia’s main credit reporting bodies are Equifax, Experian and illion.

Applying for a credit report

Credit reports help to check whether your details are being used fraudulently.

To request a copy of your credit report:

Each credit reporting body may hold different information about you. You may need to request a copy of your credit report from each one.

For more information about credit reports, visit the Office of the Australian Information CommissionerExternal Link .

Using details in your credit report to make a ReportCyber report

If you suspect any fraudulent use of your identity online, you should make a report through ReportCyberExternal Link .

In your report, include as much detail as you can from your credit report from Equifax, Experian or illion.

This includes your:

  • reference number
  • company and employment details
  • address details.

For more information about making a ReportCyber report, visit report a cybercrime.

Putting a ban on your credit report

You can request a ban to ‘freeze’ access to your credit report.

This means that credit reporting agencies can’t provide information from your consumer credit file to credit providers.

They can only disclose information if:

  • you give them permission in writing, or
  • they are required to by law.

If a ban is placed on your credit report, you can still:

  • use your credit cards
  • repay existing loans.

A ban won’t affect your current credit line or credit payments unless your credit card is about to expire.

More information

Learn more about identity theft and cyber security, and available support on the below websites.

Reviewed 21 November 2022

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