June* decided to get a copy of her credit report after chatting with a co-worker. When she opened the results, she realised her identity had been stolen by scammers.
“I remember it was on the weekend and I got this email with the report and, holy crap, there were two credit cards that were created,” June told Yahoo Finance.
“One had a substantial amount of $29,000 and the other one on the credit report was an enquiry.”
Also read: Why you're never too smart to get scammed
The Sydney office manager later discovered scammers had stolen her personal information and used fake payslips to apply for credit cards in her name.
“In a nutshell, these people had my driver’s licence, my Medicare card, my credit card details and my date of birth. Everything they used was legitimately my details,” she said.
The scammers were able to successfully open a Westpac credit card in her name and withdrew $2,000 from ATMs over the course of two days. They also attempted - unsuccessfully - to open a NAB credit card but used an out-of-date residential address.
After going to the local police, June was told the scammers likely got her information through a breach in the rental bonds system which she had recently used to apply for a rental property.
She also discovered she wasn’t the only one to have been scammed by the group, with police telling her they were aware of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of losses.
Aussies urged to check credit scores
Thankfully, June was not personally out of pocket from the ordeal but said it took some time to get the fraudulent credit cards removed from her credit report.
She urged other Aussies to check their credit reports regularly and said identity theft could, unfortunately, happen to anyone.
“I cannot recommend people doing their credit report checks strongly enough because you just don’t know. It can happen and it is real,” she said.
It comes as recent survey results from RateCity reveal more than a quarter of Aussies have been a victim of a scam, while nearly half (45 per cent) know of someone who has.
The research also found only 22 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed had checked their credit score in the past six months.
In addition to detecting potential identity fraud, RateCity said checking your credit score and report regularly could help you know where you stood as a borrower, pick up and fix any errors, and see if your score was improving.
How can I access my credit report?
Your credit report is a record of your credit history, while your credit score is a number that banks and lenders look at to check your financial credibility.
You can access your free credit report through one of three credit-reporting agencies: Experian, illion and Equifax.
You have a right to get a free copy of your credit report every three months. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s Moneysmart recommends getting a copy at least once a year.
Some credit-reporting agencies may also provide your credit score free, or you can get it from an online provider. This usually only takes a few minutes.
*Name has been changed for privacy reasons