What is an identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone steals enough of your personal information to pose as you for either personal or financial gain.
With enough personal 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.
Lost personal information also leaves you more susceptible to future scams or fraud, as stolen personal information is often sold illegally.
With the increase of organisations reporting data breaches, it's important to understand that some of your personal information may be compromised as a result of a data breach, rather than you being directly targeted by a malicious actor.
Regardless of how criminals get your information, there can be long term impacts as a result of your personal data being exposed or compromised.
If your details have been involved in a data breach, it is important that you find out as much as you can about your impacted information, and what the company is doing in relation to this. For more information visit our partner IDCare's site - https://www.idcare.org/fact-sheets/data-breaches-and-you.
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.
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 if the request 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 in westpac.com.au).
You get 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.
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.
What a scammer could 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
What you can do if you
come across a scam
Let us know
- Please report scams or suspicious activity immediately to Westpac at 132 032 or +61 2 9155 7700 (if calling from overseas).
- Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com or SMS/text messages to 0497 132 032 then delete the email or message.
- You can also report all suspicious activity to the Australian Cyber Security Centre at cyber.gov.au/report.
Get support and stay in the know
- IDCARE provides free, confidential support and guidance to those impacted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise. Call them toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit idcare.org.
- Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from scamwatch.gov.au/subscribe.
- Check out our latest scams, for copies of recently reported scams at westpac.com.au/scams.
Things you should know
* Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.