16 May, 2014
As the Attorney-General announces rates have ballooned to 1 in 5 Australians affected by identity theft, a credit reporting advocate is running an awareness campaign aimed at reducing the numbers affected by this terrible crime.
Graham Doessel, who is Non-Legal Director of MyCRA Lawyers, a firm focused on credit disputes, says identity theft can have devastating effects, including damaging the victim’s credit rating.
“Some identity theft victims can wind up banned from mainstream credit for years because a fraudster has stolen their good name,” Mr Doessel says.
This comes as a result of an Australian Institute of Criminology survey which revealed that 20.7 per cent of those surveyed had experienced identity theft at some time. 14 per cent were also refused credit following the event and 5 per cent had to commence legal action to clear debts and/or their name.
Mr Doessel says when fraudsters assume someone else’s identity they can leave a trail of destruction on their credit file.
“Fraudsters are never so kind as to pay the credit back. Defaults can then mount on the victim’s credit rating and ruin the victim’s ability to obtain credit in their own right,” he says.
Mr Doessel says there are 10 identity theft prevention tips to be aware of:
1. Install automatic software updates on your computer and perform regular scans.
2. Change passwords regularly and use a variety of passwords.
3. Keep your privacy settings secure on all sites you use.
4. Subscribe to the government’s ‘Stay Smart Online’ alerts for computer security updates.
5. Check your credit card and bank statements each time they come in for strange activity.
6. Shred all personally identifiable information which you no longer need.
7. Buy a safe for your personal information at home, and a lock for your mailbox.
8. Be aware of who gets your personal information and for what purposes. For instance, is it really necessary for the site you are registering on to store your date of birth?
9. Visit the ACCC’s ‘SCAMwatch’ website for updates.
10. Check your credit file regularly.
MyCRA Lawyers is encouraging all consumers to check their credit file to make sure it is as it should be. You can do this for free through www.freecreditrating.com.au once per year.
“We feel so passionately about credit file awareness, and want to promote how important a credit check is to preventing identity theft and all other credit rating inconsistencies,” Mr Doessel says.
He says during their ‘protect your credit file campaign’ (which began last week during Privacy Awareness Week, and runs through the month of May 2014), MyCRA Lawyers is giving away up to 50 personal shredders to their new clients. (Conditions apply, see website www.mycralawyers.com.au for full details).
“Personal information is so important to protect, and one of the simple ways we can help our clients avoid identity theft is by promoting the shredding of personal documents they no longer need,” he says.
For interviews and more information please contact:
Graham Doessel – Non-Legal Director MyCRA Lawyers Ph 3124 7133
Lisa Brewster – Media Liaison MyCRA Lawyers firstname.lastname@example.org
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: Chris Sharp/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net