What could Scammers do with our Personal Information?

A big question I get at a lot of scams awareness information sessions I facilitate in South-East Queensland is: what do scammers do with our personal information?  You can find more information in a previous article where I discuss how scammers get our personal information.  We know they can trick us into disclosing our information but what can they do with it?  Let’s explore a couple of ways scammers use our information.

With your personal information, scammers could potentially:

  • By tricking us into giving out our banking information or passwords, a scammer could access our bank accounts or charge amounts to our debit and credit cards. This is called an unauthorised transaction and you may be able to seek support from your financial institutions to rectify the account.
  • With our personal information and identification, scammers could apply for bank accounts in our name or apply for a line of credit or a loan.
  • With our personal information and identification, scammers could take out phone plans or apply for ‘buy now, pay later’ expensive goods.
  • With our personal information scammers could set up email or post redirection in order to hide evidence of applications or steal further personal information.
  • Access your email accounts or social media or online accounts to find more sensitive information.
  • Impersonate us in order to apply for release of superannuation.
  • With our personal information, they could gain access to our government online services in order to steal more personal information
  • By accessing our social media accounts, scammers could impersonate us in order to scam our family or friends

This can sound really scary but remember, this is just a list of things that COULD happen.  By being aware to the risk of scams and how important it is to protect our information, we can ensure that we do everything in our power to protect ourselves.

How do we know if our information has been used?

Some red flags that your information has been used by a scammer include:

  • You are unable to access your social media or online accounts. Passwords which previously worked, no longer work or ‘forgot your password’ prompts do not work.
  • Your application for a line of credit (such as a loan or an item that has a repayment plan) is declined.
  • You receive bills or statements for items you did not purchase or accounts you did not open; or you stop receiving mail.
  • You receive correspondence or are contacted by a service or business where they believe you have already been in contact.

These are two ways you can check to see whether your information has been used.

  • You can obtain a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months or within 90 days of declined credit. As different providers utilise different credit report services, it is recommended to gain a report from these three major credit report agencies – Illion, Experian and Equifax.
  • Review your bank statements regularly for unauthorised transactions.

Check our this article for information on how you can protect yourself from scams 

If you are concerned your personal information may be used without your consent, you can call the Seniors Enquiry Line to discuss how you can protect yourself. You can contact the Seniors Enquiry Line on 1300 135 500 between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).