VICTIMS of CYCLONE YASI are urged to take real and important measures to protect their identities from thieves in the aftermath of the cyclone’s devastation to homes and businesses.
With homes in absolute ruin and thousands of people still displaced, there is a danger of victims being hit again by identity thieves.
These fraudsters could pose as insurance people or attempt to remove personal information from homes and businesses while they are vacant and in disarray, according to credit rating repair company MY CRA’s Director GRAHAM DOESSEL.
“Victims should not be preyed upon again by criminals, but the fact is they are prime targets for identity thieves” Mr DOESSEL says.
This warning follows the deployment of 35 extra police to NORTH QUEENSLAND following the arrest of six looters in TOWNSVILLE.
The state’s disaster co-ordinator, IAN STEWART, says there had been 11 reports of looting since CYCLONE YASI hit north and far north QUEENSLAND, including an “opportunistic” break and enter at a pharmacy in CAIRNS during the height of the storm.
“It really is a disgrace that people would even consider doing this sort of thing at a time when the trauma being suffered by our community is so great,” he said.
The SOUTH-EAST QUEENSLAND floods produced scammers who tricked victims in to giving their bank details to people claiming they would help them obtain emergency funds. Scammers also claimed to be tradesmen offering to repair flood damage – they requested payment in advance before disappearing.
MR DOESSEL says cyclone victims may not only be targets for this type of crime, but particularly for other types of looting where thieves obtain personal information from vacant homes and use that information to steal someone’s identity or to claim compensation in their name.
“People could be at great risk of identity theft, due to their homes being vacant and possibly unsecured for significant parts of the day and night” he says.
He suggests if displaced victims are unable to secure important documents in their homes at present and are able to retrieve them and store them in a safe and secure place they should do so.
“Documents like marriage, birth and death certificates, past tax returns and even utility bills could all be stolen and used to appropriate someone’s identity” Mr DOESSEL says.
The AUSTRALIAN CRIME COMMISSION now sites identity theft as the “fastest growing crime in AUSTRALIA.”
Compromised financial information can be used directly to attempt to access the victim’s accounts, or be used to obtain credit cards/ loans in the victims’ name.
Fraudsters have even been known to send SMS and emails from a compromised identity to victims’ friends and associates, asking for money on the victims’ behalf. This often involves a story in regards to the victim being stranded somewhere and requiring the funds urgently.
Mr DOESSEL says his office has experienced an increase in credit rating repair due to identity theft – from card skimming through to professional gangs who ferret for personal information at a person’s home or in their rubbish bin.
“Identity crime hits twice. People are not only ripped off at the time, but their credit rating is destroyed generally for 5 years once defaults are listed on the victim’s credit file. This is regardless of how the defaults got there. A default on a person’s credit file is usually enough for an automatic decline on a home loan” he says.
The nature of credit ratings in AUSTRALIA, is once a default has been listed on a person’s file – it is very difficult to have it removed. Creditors will generally only mark the listing as paid.
“Effectively people are robbed of their financial future. The best course of action for most people fighting a default that is unjust, incorrect or just simply shouldn’t be there is to contact a reputable credit file repairer. “
“A credit rating repairer is generally more aware of the appropriate legislation, experienced at researching case by case and presenting that information in the most effective manner to ensure the best possible chance of having the default removed – as it rightly should be” Mr DOESSEL says.
People can visit the MY CRA website for more information on identity theft – what to look for, tips on preventing it and what to do if people have been scammed or their identity stolen.
Graham Doessel http://www.mycra.com.au/
Ph: 07 3124 7133
246 Stafford Road, STAFFORD QLD.
MyCRA.com.au is 100% Australian owned and operated and we are based in Stafford, a northern suburb of Brisbane in Qld.
My CRA was developed for the sole purpose of giving clients access and ability to work with their Credit File. This is in order to give them the best chance of getting approval, getting a lower interest rate or just to reduce the upfront fees that can be associated with obtaining credit. My CRA are able to help you get a copy of your credit file and from that determine how we can help repair a credit file.
We have more than 15 years combined experience in working with and helping clients with their credit files. We are the fastest known credit rating repair agency in Australia. We can often remove judgements in as little as 3 days.
As Director I [GRAHAM DOESSEL] previously owned a very successful mortgage brokerage company “Mortgage Now” before establishing My CRA because I saw a great need in the industry for credit repair.