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My experience of identity takeover: a story from the ClearScore team

Find out what happened when Steve, Head of International at ClearScore, fell victim to identity fraud, and how you can protect yourself.

Check your free credit report

Regularly monitoring your credit report is a simple way to spot signs of identity fraud.

See my free report

When someone steals your identity, they can withdraw thousands of dollars from your bank account, intercept your phone and access everything from your personal health insurance to your Medicare and tax details.

The speed at which this can happen is breath-taking, so the quicker you take action, the better.

I experienced identity takeover in March this year. It started when my phone went dead - I had no signal, just an SOS line where the network status bar is normally shown. Within minutes I began to receive emails which shed some light on what had happened.

First, my telephone company emailed me.

I got a message saying “Your new SIM has been successfully activated!” But I hadn’t ordered a new SIM card? At this stage, I started to panic.

Then, I heard from my bank. “A bank application has been started on your Samsung device”. I have an iPhone… My panic doubles.

Finally, my bank confirmed the worst.

“Your cash transaction has been successful”. $5,000 had been transferred out of my account in minutes, followed by a further $7,000 cash withdrawal.

Luckily, I was sat in front of a computer and had access to another phone. I simultaneously asked my phone company to de-activate this new SIM on an online chat whilst phoning to my bank so they could freeze my account.

While I was on the phone, the bank operator confirmed that there was a person in a branch trying to physically withdraw more cash from my account.

The whole experience left me shaken.

I was hardly able to string a sentence together when I spoke to the bank, but they acted quickly, professionally and efficiently.

Thankfully, my account was refunded after a follow-up fraud investigation. But once you’re exposed to identity takeover, there’s a high chance that someone will try to take advantage of your details again.

In my case, the criminals involved tried to regain control of my phone a second time, and they succeeded in getting it reactivated. They even asked for another four iPhones! With my phone number and my personal details under their control, they were also able to call my personal health insurance provider and change the email on the account (presumably they were trying to access my Medicare details or make fraudulent insurance claims).

Surveys estimate that 1 in 4 Australians have experienced some form of identity crime in their lives.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can detect the early stages of identity theft, allowing you to take action and stop criminals in their tracks. One of the simplest things you can do is to regularly check your credit report. Your report is a powerful monitoring tool - if you see something you don’t recognise in your ‘Accounts’ or ‘Enquiries’ section, this could be because someone is trying to take out credit or withdraw cash in your name.

You can check your free credit report on ClearScore whenever you like (it won’t affect your credit score). When you sign up, you’ll also unlock our range of Coaching plans designed to help you prevent, monitor and resolve identity crime.

Sign up to ClearScore for free now to check your credit report for mistakes.

Steve helps ClearScore to expand into new territories. He's lived in Aus for the last six years.