Identity fraud: One in four Australians fall for it, so what can be done? | #datingscams | #lovescams

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Australians are intensely vulnerable to scams. In the ACCC’s annual targeting scams report (2021), the consumer watchdog found that across Scamwatch, ReportCyber, 12 financial institutions and government agencies, a total of over $2 billion was reported as stolen in the last year.

These scams disproportionately affect older citizens, with the 65+ age demographic filing the most reports, and the 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ demographics reporting the greatest percentage of loses to scams. Within Scamwatch alone, the biggest source of the loss was investment scams, followed by dating & romance scams, false billing and remote access scams, but elsewhere other scams were reported to be more common. For example, another report found that one in four Australians have fallen victim to identity fraud.

According to that report, the individual impact of identity fraud is relatively mild – the misuse of personal information costs the average victim $300 on average. However, it also takes 34 hours to deal with the fallout from the fraud, and can cause extreme anxiety. There’s also the potential that, over time, the theft of identity can result in damaged credit scores, illegal behaviour being conducted in that person’s name, and other intangible costs.

It’s impossible to decouple from the Internet, where the bulk of scams occur. Too much of modern life happens online. With that in mind, it’s important that every Australian redouble their efforts to protect themselves from scams and, particularly, identity fraud.

Why Identity Fraud Occurs

For the criminal, identity fraud can be a relatively simple two-step process:

  • Firstly, the criminal will acquire personal data. This is much easier than many realise. Simply finding your social media profiles (including the ones that you yourself have forgotten about), and scraping them for key pieces of information such as birthdays, your location, your place of work & job title, and so on.
  • Secondly, the criminal will then use that identity to open new accounts or take over existing accounts with what the information allows them to. It can be frightening just how little information is needed to convince a phone company to transfer your number to their device, and from there use the phone as a two-factor authentication device to get access to your email, for example. Once they’re in there they’ll be able to track down more personal information, and potentially enough to contact banks to start taking out loans in your name.

Perhaps the most frightening thing about identity theft is that it can be a long time before you’ll notice something is amiss. Often it’s not until you’re being turned down for loans on the basis of a poor credit score, or have debt collectors starting to investigate you, that you’ll realise that someone has managed to get enough information on you to commit identity fraud.

Protecting Yourself From The Threat

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