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Thursday, 01 October 2009 12:06

Identity theft, crime rife in Australia

Credit card theft, unauthorised bank account access and identity theft are rife in Australia with more than one in five Australians aged 16-years or over now reporting that someone has stolen their identity, illegally accessed, or tried to access their bank accounts, stolen or skimmed their credit cards or tried to steal their bank account pin.

In new research released today by Veda Advantage, it was found that more than 1.5 million Australians had credit cards illegally skimmed, and 1.2 million had bank accounts illegally accessed, while almost 1.2 million (7%) Australians had personal mail stolen.
Veda Advantage head of marketing and communications, Kelvin Kirk, said today that the research, conducted for the company by Galaxy Research in April this year, indicated younger Australians are at increased risk of identity theft.
Kirk also said that Australians older than 50 years are less likely to have ever experienced bank account or credit card crime, compared to those aged  25 to 49 years, “a quarter of whom have been personally affected by identity crime, including having bank accounts and credit cards illegally accessed, or mail and or PIN numbers stolen.

“Credit card crime is especially prevalent, with almost 10% of Australians surveyed falling victim to someone either stealing or skimming their credit card. People aged from 25 to 49 years are the most impacted by mail theft.”

According to Kirk, many people don’t realise they can take simple steps to help protect themselves against identity crime.
“Every credit-active Australian has a credit file, which is like a financial passport. A credit file includes applications for credit over the past five years - from water and mobile services to mortgages, personal loans and credit cards. By setting up an alert service, which is linked to your credit file, you can be notified if someone commits identity theft and makes a credit application using your identity documents. This should be a protective routine measure for all credit-active adult Australians.”

Kirk said that services such as SecureIdentity provided proactive assistance, including a credit file alert service, and a cancellation and replacement service for financial cards, as well as temporarily blocking lost or stolen mobile phones and acting as a contact point for the return of lost keys and luggage.

“Generally, people don’t start worrying about identity crime until it happens to them. However, by taking the initiative and putting simple procedures in place to minimise this risk, Australians may not have to experience the cost and inconvenience of identity crime.”

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