Increasingly, the threat from criminals stealing your identity to arrange credit in your name has become a significant problem.
In the high-tech world we now live in, it is virtually impossible not to have your identity exposed to the possibility that it may be stolen and used by criminals.
Most of us now complete our everyday transactions via the Internet using our credit card and other details. Even the government now requires you to use their services online, including providing and storing your personal identifiers, in many cases the same personal identifiers required to be provided when seeking credit. It is sometimes necessary and sometimes convenient, but it does increase the risk of someone stealing your identity.
It is difficult to know if your identity has been stolen until it is too late. A credit facility might be arranged in your name using your identity and not repaid. Suddenly, you receive a phone call from a debt collector asking why you did not repay the loan or not pay a bill. One way to manage this risk is to understand if anyone is applying for credit in your name.
I recently established an account with Equifax Ultimate, one of the premier credit file managers in Australia, to monitor my credit activity, but also to monitor "black sites" used by criminals to purchase credit card, bank and personal identiy details. The Equifax Ultimate monitoring alerts me if anyone accesses my credit file, even if for legitimate applications I have completed, or if my credit card, bank or identity details are listed for sale on a "black site".
In a recent webinar on identity theft I attended, a retired fraud police officer recounted some of the horror stories of people whose identity had been stolen. It took those people years and years to clear their name. Prevention is always better than the cure.
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