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Identity theft checklist

Identity theft is on the increase in Australia. It can take many forms, from fraudulent credit card use, to your entire identity being used to open accounts, obtain loans, and conduct other illegal activities.


Here are 8 simple strategies to help protect your financial identity:

  • Ensure your mailbox is locked and check it for tampering.
    If you'll be away from home for an extended period, arrange for mail to be held at your local post office or have a friend collect it.
  • Safely dispose of personal and financial information such as account statements, bills and receipts, by tearing or shredding them before throwing them away
  • Sign up to electronic statements, which can be viewed and downloaded when banking online. eStatements are also good for the environment
  • Check you've received all expected bills and statements as a missing statement could mean a thief has removed it from your mailbox
  • Register for Westpac Protect™ SMS code and receive SMS alerts to your mobile to authorise certain Online Banking transactions
  • If you are moving house update your details straight away.
    Call us on 132 032 (8am-8pm, 7 days a week)
  • Do we have your mobile or telephone number? Knowing your current contact details will enable us to contact you quickly if suspicious activity is detected
  • Set up a special keyword - it’s like an extra layer of security used during Telephone Banking that makes it harder for a fraudster to assume your identity. Just call 132 032 anytime to activate.

     

Cheque fraud

We continue to invest significant time and money in the latest anti-fraud security systems and techniques. There are also some simple steps you can take to help prevent cheque fraud:

Identifying fraudulent cheques

In many cases, you can detect a fraudulent cheque simply by its appearance. Look out for:

  • Inconsistencies within font type and size, straight lines and gaps
  • Spelling or grammar mistakes
  • Smudging of the print, or removal of ink
  • Uneven spacing
  • Poor quality paper or colour design.

Lastly, be cautious accepting cheques from people you don't know well.

The cheque writing checklist

  • Always write names in full. For example, 'Westpac Banking Corporation', not 'Westpac' or 'W.B.C.'. A fraudster may open an account using false identity documents, as if their real name was linked to the initials.
  • Always draw a horizontal line after the amount and PAYEE details to prevent anyone from manipulating any of the information
  • Never leave spaces between any written figures - this encourages fraudsters to add their own amounts
  • Only write in pen or ink (not pencil)
  • Encourage your customers to do the same.

Minimising risk in the mail

Mail theft is a major problem and accounts for a substantial number of cheque fraud cases in Australia. To lower the chance of this happening:

  • Use secure or registered mail for large value cheques
  • Operate your mail through a Post Office box, not a street address
  • Use direct credit instead of cheques and encourage your customers to do the same
  • Reconcile all your cheques as soon as possible
  • Cancel the cheques you issued if not processed within reasonable time.