Stay safe from scams this Christmas
Stay safe this Christmas: Scam victims should be worried about 5 year blacklisting on their credit rating
28 November 2012
As more Christmas scams come to the fore, a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting is warning consumers that scammers are not just after the money in their bank accounts, but are after much more – their financial identity.
CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs, Graham Doessel says consumers need to be wary of the opportunities fraudsters may take to misuse their personal information.
“Scams and other fraud attempts are becoming much more sophisticated as profits get more lucrative. Many fraudsters are into building a profile of their victim – extracting layers of information which allows them to access credit in the victim’s name – including loans and even properties.”
“The difficulty for recovery when someone has tapped in to your credit rating is that generally you have unpaid debts in your name, which are placed in default - which basically means for 5 years your own ability to obtain credit is ruined,” Mr Doessel says.
This warning comes as the Australian Banker’s Association (ABA) last week announced reports of a telephone scam where fraudsters were impersonating them and offering instructions on how to obtain a ‘refund’ for overcharged bank fees.[i]
The ABA said criminals asked customers to proceed to a post office to receive the so-called ‘refund’ - ranging from $5 000 - $7 000.
Victims are then asked to wire money via Western Union for costs associated with the ‘refund’.
But in addition, scammers also tacked on a request for personal details, which signifies an attempt to misuse those details in the future, possibly for identity theft purposes.
Fraudsters asked these questions:
whom do you bank?
For how long?
What is your credit card number?
What is your driver’s licence number?
Mr Doessel says fraudsters are attempting to gather extra information from their victims over and above what they might already have in front of them.
“If they have your full name plus who you bank with, and your driver’s licence number - they have the basic building blocks for an identity theft attempt. They can call the bank and have some kind of identity information on which to proceed with accessing bank accounts AND accessing further credit in your name,” he says.
The bank refund phone scam has been added to a long list of scam attempts running over the past few months, and many more could emerge as Christmas approaches.
Mr Doessel says sometimes people don’t know they have been a victim until after they apply for credit and are refused.
“By that time, it is such a struggle to recover your good name. For an identity theft victim to have a chance at removing bad credit history, you must prove you didn’t initiate the credit in the first place. This can be difficult if the scam happened months or years before,” he says.
What to do if you suspect you have fallen for a scam
1. Contact the Police immediately. Don’t be embarrassed or dismiss it because you don’t think the amount was significant enough. It is only through identity theft being reported that data gets collected and appropriate preventative measures eventually get put in place.
2. Contact your Bank. They should be able to flag your accounts so that no credit can be obtained in your name.
3. Contact the credit reporting agencies that hold your credit file. In Australia, this is Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet and TASCOL (if in Tasmania). You should inform them that you may be at risk of identity theft and they may have a plan of action for protecting your credit file.
4. At this time, you should also order a copy of your credit report. If there are any inconsistencies on your credit report – change of address, strange credit enquiries and instances of credit you don’t believe you’ve access, then you may already be a victim – and should do all that’s possible to follow up on each account so as not to accrue defaults on your credit file that should not be there.
5. If you find you have defaults that shouldn’t be there, take steps to remove them. Although it seemed so easy for the fraudster to use your good name in the first place, you are now faced with proving the case of identity theft with copious amounts of documentary evidence in order to get the credit listings removed from your credit file.
If you have neither the time nor the knowledge of Australia’s credit reporting system and credit legislation that you may need to fight your case yourself, you can seek the help of a professional credit repairer.
Visit www.mycra.com.au for more information on identity theft and bad credit or call MyCRA on 1300 667 218.