Identity fraud (also known as identity theft or crime) involves someone using another individual’s personal information without consent, often to obtain a benefit. For example, identity fraud can result in someone using another individual’s identity to open a bank account, get a credit card, apply for a passport or conduct illegal activity.

Your identity can be stolen if a thief accesses your personal information, including from any document that contains information about you. Even if a thief only accesses a small amount of your personal information, they may be able to steal your identity if they can find out more about you from public sources. This includes social media accounts which may include your date of birth, photos and information about your family.

There are many types of fraud and many online and email scams out there. If you’re not expecting a request to update information or to receive a refund or prize, don’t give out your personal information until you're sure it is legitimate.

What to do if you’re a victim of identity fraud

If you’re a victim of identity fraud or suspect your identity has been stolen, it’s important to act quickly to minimise any financial or other damages.

Report the fraud

Report the matter to your local police, and ask for a police report or reference number so you have evidence that you reported the issue.

Contact the organisation or agency that issued your identity document and your financial institution and tell them what happened.

Report cybercrime securely to the Australian Cyber Security Centre at ReportCyber.

Change your passwords

Change your account passwords and close any unauthorised accounts.

Seek expert advice

Contact IDCARE, Australia’s national identity and cyber support service, to get expert advice from a specialist identity and cyber security counsellor.

Get a copy of your credit report

Get a copy of your credit report to check it’s accurate — you’re entitled to a free credit report once every 3 months. It will also show which organisations have recently checked your credit history, so you can tell them not to authorise a new account in your name.

Consider contacting credit reporting bodies to place a ban period on your credit report — during a ban period, they won’t use or disclose your credit report or add new information to it.

Consider whether you may need a victims’ certificate

A victims’ certificate may help you with problems in your personal or business affairs caused by identity crime. You can apply for a certificate from the Commonwealth or from some states and territories, depending on the type of identity crime that occurred.

For more information about identity fraud, visit IDCARE, and the Australian Federal Police