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Cyber crime

Victim of Identity Theft? 8 Essential Steps To Act Now

Niek Dekker
6 Min

If you fall victim to business identity theft, then you must act now. Identity thieves are notorious when it comes to stealing your personal details involving credit card information, driver’s licence, emails, and supplier information.

Identity crime continues to be the main driver of severe organised crime, as 1 in 4 Australians have been a victim of identity crime at some point in their lives according to the Department of Home Affairs. It’s evident that identity theft can be a stressful, time-consuming and costly experience.

Cyber criminals have enough information to target their next victims by accessing personal information publicly available on the web and on social media. If you suspect your information has been stolen, below we explore the 8 essential steps you should take to reduce exposure to further exploitation.

What To Do If You Are A Victim of Identity Theft

If you think your identity has been stolen, manipulated or your data has been infiltrated then you must act now. It’s critical that you act quickly in order to minimise financial loss. Here are 8 steps to get you started promptly.

1. Report To The Police

The first step in suspecting identity theft is to report the cyber crime to the police immediately. If a scammer has infiltrated your network systems, or has successfully gained access to your sensitive information, then contact triple 000 or your local police department.

When reporting to the police, make sure to document the following:

  • Date & time of the incident
  • Contacts including names, titles, phone numbers, and extensions
  • Financial information including credit/debit cards, BSB and account numbers or exposed invoices
  • Any signs of network infections or malicious software (malware) used
  • Any other information you identify about the scammer such as phone numbers, email, website address, or car registration plate number (to help with any investigations)
  • Any other related information in reference to the crime

It’s also important to ask for a copy of the police report and the police report number related to the crime to provide to the bank.

2. Contact Your Financial Institution

Next step is to contact your bank and report the suspicious activity on your bank account. The banks can immediately investigate your bank statements & freeze all your accounts to stop cyber criminals from making any more fraudulent payments.

Some banks may have advanced security and fraud alerts in place to detect abnormal transactions or spend patterns. In addition, some banks have cyber security teams that can investigate suspicious transactions and activity that took place across your accounts.

3. Contact Representatives & IT Teams

According to your organisation’s anti-fraud policy, all executives must communicate inline with the organisation’s stance and processes on fraud and how it should be dealt with. In the immediate aftermath of identity theft, departments must follow company protocols ensuring the right decisions are made.

For instance, urgently consulting with the CEO, director and IT professionals is essential in de-escalating the fallout of identity fraud. Your IT team can investigate how the cyber crime was orchestrated, whether any financial accounts are compromised, and examine any server logs to pinpoint the source of the attack.

4. Reviewing A Copy Of Your Credit Report

One way to identify identity fraud is to review your credit history for any incorrect balances or errors. If a fraudster has opened an account in your name, or made fraudulent transactions, then you should immediately dispute it with a credit report agency.

Usually, when individuals or businesses fall victim to identity theft, their credit scores are negatively impacted. Organisations can also place a security freeze on their credit reports if they suspect suspicious activity or request to block or remove fraudulent debts.

Requesting a credit report is a free service and straightforward. Below are several credit report agency hotlines to request your credit report:

Credit Report Agency Contact
Equifax 138 332
Experian 1300 783 684
Illion 1300 734 806
Clearscore help@clearscore.com
Moneysmart 1800 555 660
Finder 1300 346 337

5. Report The Crime to Cyber.gov.au & Scamwatch

It’s critical that you report cyber crime to regulatory bodies to assist investigators track down criminals who could be targeting other organisations in the same industry.

By reporting the crime to the appropriate authorities like Scamwatch or the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), you can play a major role in making the internet safer and more secure for other Australians.

These regulatory bodies might have information helping you identify the crime syndicates behind your cyber fraud case.

In addition, Cyber.gov.au has further information if you fall victim to cybercrime. For instance, when you report identity theft, the following actions take place:

  • Your report will be referred to the appropriate police jurisdiction for assessment
  • The ACSC will be unable to advise on the progress of a report
  • By reporting you are not making a formal police statement
  • Not all reports are investigated by law enforcement agencies
  • All reports assist in disrupting operations and helps to make Australia the most secure place to connect online
  • If you have lost money, contact your financial institution immediately

6. Contact the Australia Taxation Office

If your tax file number has been used in a scam, then you need to alert the Australian Taxation Office.

Depending on your situation and what information was stolen, there are various ATO contact numbers you can call if you suspect identity theft. See below for a list of situation based contact numbers:

Situation What you should do
If someone has stolen or misused your TFN, your ABN or other tax-related information Contact 1800 467 033
If someone has accessed your MyGov account, including your linked ATO online services without your permission Contact 13 28 61
If someone has accessed your personal information in MyGovID Contact 1300 287 539 (select option 2)
If someone has inappropriately accessed your business information in the Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) Contact 1300 287 539 (select option 3)
If someone has created a self-managed super fund (SMSF) with your personal information or made changes to your existing account Contact 1800 467 033
If a data breach occurs within your business, and you are a digital service provider or software developer Contact the SBR Service Desk on 1300 448 231, between 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM AEST, Monday to Friday

The ATO currently has a client identity support centre that assists individuals who have had their identities stolen or misused. Their team can provide you the necessary information, advice and assistance to re-establish your identity. Visit the ATO lost or stolen TFN page for more information.

7. Consider Applying For A Commonwealth Victim’s Certificate

A victim’s 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 website or from some states and territories, depending on the type of identity crime that occurred.

Organisations can use Commonwealth Victim’s Certificate to present government agencies, financial institutions or credit agencies to help support their claim that they have been a victim of Commonwealth identity crime.

This may help you to rectify your business or personal fairs. Visit the Home Affairs website for more information about Commonwealth Victims’ Certificates.

8. Seek Support & Advice

Organisations who are looking to seek further support & advice can do so by contacting cyber support services like IDCARE or Services Australia.

IDCARE

IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity & cyber support service that provides assistance and support to organisations that experience data breach events. IDCARE can provide the necessary steps to take to reduce harm and protect the identity of the organisation.

Seek support today on the IDCARE website or contact 1800 595 170 (for organisational incident response) between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM AEST, Monday to Friday.

Services Australia

Services Australia is a government agency that is responsible for the delivery of advice and high-quality, accessible social, health and child support services and payments. If you think your identity information is at risk, contact or email the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk at 1800 941 126 or at reportascam@servicesaustralia.gov.au.

How Eftsure Can Help

Cyber criminals have the potential to steal your identity within days.

In the aftermath of an identity crime, you will find that the experience can be devastating and a painful process to deal with. Even if you report the scam as soon as possible, there’s no guarantee that you can fully recover the lost funds.

That’s why strengthening security controls & preventing identity theft is critical.

With Eftsure, our real-time alerts will allow you to investigate any fraudulent activity before releasing payment by verifying the BSB and Account Number. All outgoing payments are verified against our proprietary database, giving your business assurance that cyber criminals are not defrauding you.

Contact Eftsure today, for a full demonstration of how we can protect your business from identity theft.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) Incident Response Guide
Learn how to respond to a Business Email Compromise attack by following the necessary steps. Download the Business Email Compromise (BEC) Incident Response Guide today to strengthen the odds of recovering your funds following a BEC attack.

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