24 October 2013
A survey conducted for the Attorney-General’s Department reveals Australian credit ratings are under increasing threat from ballooning identity theft numbers, and a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting warns victims can pay heavily, with many locked out of mainstream credit for years.
CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair, Graham Doessel says when fraudsters take out credit in their victim’s name they can leave a trail of destruction on the victim’s credit file.
“Fraudsters are never so kind as to pay the credit back. Defaults can then mount on the victim’s credit rating and hinder the victim’s ability to obtain credit in their own right,” Mr Doessel says.
He goes on to say that “unless the victim can prove they didn’t initiate the credit in the first place, these defaults stay on the credit file for the term, which is five years.”
The warnings come following the release of the ‘Identity Theft Concerns and Experiences‘ survey conducted by Di Marzio Research for the Attorney-General’s Department. (1)
The survey found that identity theft had increased by a massive 40 per cent from 2011 to 2012 to almost one in four Australians having been a victim or known somebody who has been a victim of identity theft.
It also showed 31 per cent of those victims had had their identity used to obtain finance, credit or a loan. This is an increase of 5 per cent from the previous survey in 2011.
These figures correlate to almost one in every twelve Australians being victims of identity fraud which has had the potential to impact their credit rating.
Mr Doessel says pieces of personal information are the building blocks for credit file misuse.
“People can lose personal information in many ways, and they may be unaware of how or when it has occurred – particularly if it has happened via malware or even through too much sharing online,” he explains.
“Sometimes it’s not until the victim applies for credit and is refused that they find out they have been exposed to identity fraud, and by then it may be too late to trace how it took place.”
The survey pinpointed the private sector (Credit Providers such as banks and telcos) as providing victims with the most help with recovery, at 48 per cent – followed by Police at 32 per cent. Interestingly the government was cited as providing only 8 per cent of help with recovery, and 18 per cent of people had no help with recovery.
But Mr Doessel warns that whilst Credit Providers may be able to help with reimbursing some identity theft victims, those that end up with defaults may not be so lucky.
“It’s not a simple case of being ‘reimbursed’ for credit file misuse under the Credit Provider’s insurance. It is a slow and difficult process to try and recover a good name which has been tarnished,” he says.
Mr Doessel says preventative measures centre around the safeguarding of personal information.
“Get up to speed on the ways that fraudsters could misuse your personal information or your credit rating. Put as many preventative measures in place as possible, so that you have the least possible chance of becoming a victim.”
“Also, check for credit file discrepancies. We recommend people regularly obtain a copy of their credit report to ensure that everything on their file is as it should be. That way if there are any problems, they can be rectified while there is no urgency,” he says.
Under current legislation a credit file report can be obtained for free every 12 months from the major credit reporting agencies Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet and TASCOL (if in Tasmania) and is sent to the owner of the credit file within 10 working days, or for a fee it can be sent urgently.
Mr Doessel adds, Australia needs to create a culture of transparency when it comes to combatting this crime.
“Talk, talk, and talk some more, about what you know about identity theft. If you’re a victim – tell others about your story. In particular, talk to young people who might not fully understand the consequences of giving away their personal information and also talk to older people – who may be less tech-savvy and more vulnerable to predators,” he advises.
You can find more information on identity theft on the Attorney General’s Website http://www.ag.gov.au/identitysecurity.
Graham Doessel – CEO Ph 3124 7133
Lisa Brewster – Media Relations firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph 07 3124 7133 www.mycra.com.au www.mycra.com.au/blog
MyCRA Credit Repair 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld
MyCRA is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.
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