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Identity Theft

"Identity theft" is the a takeover of a person's identity by utilising stolen personal information, or fraudulently obtained, forged or stolen identity documents. It often results in the takeover of a victim's existing bank accounts or by the fraudulent operation of new accounts opened by the perpetrator in the victim's name.

Identity theft brings with it additional problems of victimisation for the person whose name has been "stolen". These problems centre on the victim undoing the damage that has been caused to their name and reputation. Many victims need to expend large amounts of time and resources convincing banks , financial institutions and other agencies that they were not responsible for the fraudulent activity that occurred in their name. Many victims have also found difficulty in restoring their credit rating to what it was prior to the theft of their name. In instances where the name stolen is that of a deceased person, the surviving relatives effectively become the victims and can experience similar difficulties and associated emotional trauma.

How to prevent Identity Crime

  1. Security of personal and business information is critical. Criminals commonly rummage through the rubbish bins looking for personal identifying data that they can steal and use to commit fraud and other offences in your name.
  2. Take time to shred or destroy old bank statements, credit card bills, utility bills or other documents to prevent this material falling into the hands of criminals.
  3. Be careful to whom you give personal information. If you have to reveal personal information, ask some questions about the security of the information and be very cautious giving out any information over the phone of Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
  4. Guard your mail from theft by securing your letterbox. Criminals value your mail and will use it to commit fraud with your accounts or open loans or credit in your name.
  5. Check your bank and credit card statements to make sure there are no unauthorised transactions - this may be the first sign someone has stolen your identity.
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