Identity theft

MORE than three quarters of a million Australians were the victims of identity theft in the past year, costing the average victim about $4000, credit bureau Veda says.

Illegally obtained personal information fuels cybercrimes such as online theft, the company said, and globally, billions of dollars were lost to cybercrime.

When thieves broke into Rhonda’s supposedly secure mailbox she thought it was just another ordinary theft.

But five months later she got a text message from her bank asking her to confirm that she had changed her mobile number.

“I received a text basically advising me that if the changed mobile number wasn’t correct to contact them immediately,” she said.

Rhonda immediately went to an ATM to check her account.

“And when I went there it had gone from a $6000-plus account down to a dollar,” she said.

The thieves had obtained her name and date of birth, as well as some basic account details.

Rhonda said it was enough for them to access her account through telephone banking.

“They’d stolen my mail and got a certain amount of information that gave them enough to start getting them through some protocol with the bank,” she said.

“Then I believe from there, you know obviously we’re all very active on social media, they were able to get further details.”

Rhonda was one of 772,000 Australians who have been victims of identity theft in the past 12 months.

A survey conducted by Veda shows one in five Australians have had their personal information stolen at some point.

Veda’s head of cybercrime, Fiona Long, said cybercrime was costly and frustrating for victims.

“At a cost of around $1.6billion to the economy in the last year, $4000 per incidence and 18 hours to resolve each issue,” Ms Long said.

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