How to protect yourself

Protect your personal information – don’t become an identity theft victim!

Identity theft is more likely to occur if you make it easy for someone to take and use your personal information.

There are a several things you can do to protect your information:

  • Be careful with your personal information, how much you give out and who you share it with.
  • If someone asks for your personal information, ask why the organisation or individual needs it, and what they intend to do with it.
  • Do not write down PINs or passwords.
  • Keep key identification documents (e.g. birth certificate and passport) in a safe and secure place.
  • Make sure you properly dispose (shred or burn) of bank statements, electricity bills and any piece of correspondence with your name and address on it. These documents should never be put in public rubbish bins or recycling bins. Consider getting your statements provided online – it’s good for you and the environment too.
  • Be cautious, identity theft does not always result from information that is stolen; people often give it away by publishing it in public places (e.g. date of birth posted on a social networking website).
  • If you use Internet banking, do not log on from a shared or public computer, such as an Internet café, to make any sensitive transactions.
  • Remove all personal information from computers before you dispose of them.
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected events (e.g. letters from creditors, bank transactions you can’t remember making) that could be the result of identity theft.
  • If you move, ensure all your mail is forwarded to your new address.
  • Request an access register report from Births, Deaths and Marriages at the Department of Internal Affairs. This is a free service that allows people to find out who has applied to access their records since 25 January 2009, regardless of a certificate/printout being issued.
  • Check your own credit report.
  • Talk to your friends, family and colleagues about the things you think are suspicious or what you may have seen in the news. Being aware of trends and the experience of others can help protect both you and them.

If you think you are the victim of identity theft, there is more information to assist you.