Media Release

Identity theftIdentity theft at their fingertips:

Fraudsters and Social Media

5 June 2014

As identity theft numbers increase in Australia, a consumer credit advocate shows how easy it can be for fraudsters to commit identity theft using social media, warning there are too many Australians disregarding their personal information, and leaving themselves wide open to identity theft and credit rating misuse.

Graham Doessel, who is a Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers, a firm focused on credit dispute, says social media users who don’t opt in and maintain strong Privacy settings are ‘sitting ducks’ for fraudsters.

“Fraudsters are trolling Social Media and other internet sites right now, looking for those consumers who are free and easy with their personal information,” Mr Doessel warns.

“If you don’t strengthen your Privacy settings you run a grave risk – it’s not just the risk of having your account hacked, it’s the risk of having your identity stolen and having crime, including credit fraud, committed in your name.”

Mr Doessel says the reason Facebook and other social media are so tantalising for fraudsters, is because many of the building blocks for identity theft are laid out.

“If your Privacy settings aren’t secure your personal information is right at the fingertips of fraudsters,” he says.

In order to obtain a birth certificate in Australia, a full name, date of birth, father’s name, mother’s maiden name, place of birth, and residential address are required.

Mr Doessel says this can all be freely available on many social media profiles.

“The other day I went on to a popular social media site, to see how easy it could be to obtain information. The frightening thing is, within five minutes of browsing a ‘random’ name, I was able to get four points of the information required on this person, and have a pretty good guess at the fifth. By simply changing the address, a fraudster could have a red-hot go at obtaining a birth certificate in this person’s name,” he says.

Mr Doessel says other random browses proved to be similarly forthcoming, particularly amongst men using social media.

“Women seemed to safeguard their information much better than the men I came across, begging the suggestion that women are much savvier when it comes to social media Privacy,” he says.

His warnings come as part of Stay Smart Online Awareness Week 2014, a national education campaign aimed at helping Australians using the internet understand the simple steps they can take to protect their personal and financial information online.

“We are raising awareness of some simple ways Australians can stay smart with their credit rating. Smart Facebook and other social media use have got to be number one,” he says.

He is urging Australian users of social media to take some simple steps to protect the privacy of their profiles:

Staying Smart on Facebook

1. Don’t share too much, remember your personal information is valuable – and often once you’ve posted something online – it’s permanent.

2. Install and maintain strong Privacy settings on social media.

3. Change passwords regularly and use different passwords for different sites.

4. Put a password on your mobile device.

5. Don’t ‘friend’ someone you don’t know.

6. Be wary about the type of requests, emails and attachments you click on.

According to a recent Australian Institute of Criminology Identity crime and misuse survey, identity theft has increased to 1 in 10 Australians affected. 14 per cent of those victims were refused credit as a result.

“Identity theft can lead to loans or other credit being taken out in the victim’s name, and often the victims don’t even know they’ve succumbed to identity theft until they’re refused credit themselves,” Mr Doessel says.

He says recovery can be painstaking because the victim needs to prove they didn’t instigate the credit in the first place, but often necessary due to the victim being locked out of credit for between 5 and 7 years.

“Identity theft can be really hard to prove, especially if the victim has no idea how their personal information was obtained in the first place. Police reports and large amounts of documentary evidence are generally required to substantiate to creditors the case of identity theft, but to those experiencing this, it’s a point worth fighting for,” he says.

/ENDS.

Please contact: Graham Doessel – Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers Ph 3124 7133

Lisa Brewster – Media Liaison MyCRA Lawyers media@mycralawyers.com.au

www.mycralawyers.com.au www.mycralawyers.com.au/blog  www.mycralawyers.com.au/mediacentre

MyCRA Lawyers 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld Ph 07 3124 7133

About MyCRA Lawyers: MyCRA Lawyers is an Incorporated Legal Practice focused on credit file consultancy and credit disputes. MyCRA Lawyers means business when it comes to helping those disadvantaged by credit rating mistakes.

Image: Gualberto107/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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