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What is an Identity theft?

Identity theft is when someone gets enough of your personal information to steal your identity for personal or financial gain.
 

Lost personal information also leaves you more susceptible to future scams or fraud, as stolen personal information is often sold illegally.

How they contact you*

There are many ways you may be subject to identity theft with the most common being by phone, email or over the internet.

How they contact you* % How they contact you* %

Phone

51.6%

Mail

1.4%

Email

22.1%

Mobile applications

1.3%

Text message

15.6%

In person

 1.0%

Internet

4.3%

Not applicable

 0.1%

Social networking

2.5%

Fax

 0.1%

What they're after

With enough information scammers may be able to access your bank accounts, apply for loans in your name, take out phone plans or other contracts, buy goods in your name, access other private or sensitive information or even impersonate you to trick your family or friends.

What could a scammer do with your personal information?

 

  • Access and empty your bank accounts
  • Open new bank accounts in your name and apply for loans or lines of credit
  • Take out phone plans and other contracts
  • Purchase expensive goods in your name
  • Steal your superannuation
  • Get access to your government online services
  • Access your email to find more sensitive information
  • Access your social media accounts and impersonate you to scam your family and friends

Signs this may be a scam

You are asked for your personal information.
Do not give it to them. Ask for a reference number, then contact the business yourself on a trusted number to verify the call was genuine.

You receive an email or SMS asking you to click on a link.
Do not click on the link. Sign into your account by typing the address into the browser yourself. E.g. type westpac.com.au

You receive a notification about a new banking, lending or financial service in your name.
Contact the lender or service provider immediately. Check your credit report using a reputable credit reference bureau.

Your mailbox has been broken into or you notice mail missing.
Put a lock on your mailbox. Change to electronic statements. Shred any sensitive documents you no longer need.


Important

Financial institutions, government agencies and most organisations will never contact you requesting access to your device, share your passwords, security codes, PIN’s or other personal information via a pop up or a phone call. Never share these with anyone, regardless of the claims being made. Always call organisations back on trusted numbers found on their website or phone directory to validate any of these types of requests.


Who should I contact and examples of scams.

Andrew recently had his phone number ported (transferred to another service) without his knowledge or consent after clicking on a link in a scam SMS. The scammer used the mobile number to access Andrew’s Facebook page and impersonated Andrew to contact his friends. The scammer asked five of Andrew’s friends to be a referee for a bank loan. Andrew’s friend Beth offered to help.
 

After giving information to the scammer, Beth’s phone was also fraudulently ported. The scammer accessed Beth’s bank accounts, made a new account to transfer funds into, opened a currency card to spend worldwide and increased Beth’s credit limit.
 

The scammers ended up with over $12,000 of Beth’s money. Luckily, Beth was able to get most of the scammed money back after contacting the banks and cancelling online purchases.

Tony received an email stating that his phone account had been suspended. Tony followed the instructions and clicked on the link in the email, which requested he enter his personal information such as his email password to reset his account.
 

The email was in fact a phishing scam and scammers accessed Tony’s email account, which had soft copies of his and his wife’s Rita’s personal documents, including driver’s licence, passport, Medicare card, credit card, banking details, payment slips, work contracts and academic documents.
 

This information was used to steal Tony and Rita’s identities. The scammers ported both Tony and Rita’s mobile phone numbers, gained access to their bank accounts and applied for new phone contracts, a bank account and credit cards in their name. The scammers withdrew $3,000 in cash before Tony and Rita were able to block their accounts.


Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.
 

Report a scam

If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or SMS messages, or notice unusual activity on your account, it’s important that you let us know.
 

Security Wellbeing Check

To help keep you up to date with the latest security features, we’ve introduced the Security Wellbeing Check. Found in the Westpac App, it checks your Westpac settings and suggests how you can improve the security of your banking facilities.

Things you should know

* Delivery method percentages are based on the number of reports from 1 January 2020 to 31 August 2020. The data is sourced from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) scam watch website and is based on reports provided to the ACCC by web form and over the phone.
 

** Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.