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.
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.
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 . For information about making a ReportCyber report, visit .
- Visit the or call . 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.
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.
Using details in your credit report to make a ReportCyber report
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.
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.
Credit report bans are valid for 21 days.
The credit reporting body may give you an extension if you have evidence that you:
- are a victim of fraud
- may become a victim of fraud.
If the credit reporting agency decides to extend the ban period, they must let you know in writing. They must also tell you the length of the extension.
In most cases, you will need to provide evidence that you have either:
Learn more about identity theft and cyber security, and available support on the below websites.
- Learn more about what to do if you’re a victim of identity fraud on the .
- For financial support or advice, visit the or call . The service provides free, independent financial information over the phone or in person.
- For more advice about cyber security, visit the .
- For steps to secure your online accounts and devices, visit the .
- For further information about identity theft, visit .
Reviewed 21 November 2022