What you need to know about the internet to save your teenager’s future credit file
Young Australians are putting their good credit rating at risk every time they post personal information publicly on the internet, even before they are ever credit active, a leading credit repairer warns.
“The harsh reality is if you’re a teenager in Australia today you are not immune to identity fraud. Even though you are not yet credit active the personal information you make public today could be used against you in the future,” CEO of MyCRA Credit Repairs, Graham Doessel says.
He says many teenagers do not know the risks of having a public ‘profile’ on sites like Facebook and Twitter, but fraudsters do.
“With the volume of personal information that is publicly available about our young people on social network sites, what’s to say fraudsters can’t pull that information and use it to build a profile that could allow them to create a fake identity?” he says.
Late last year, the Australian Federal Police’s national co-ordinator of identity security strike team, Ben McQuillan spoke about the dangers of identity crime at a forum on money laundering and terrorism.
He warned forum listeners about the new trend of ‘warehousing’ which involves storing data for a time, making it harder for a victim or bank to trace where and when the data was stolen.
”If people know your full name, your date of birth, where you went to school and other lifestyle issues, and they were to warehouse that data, there is a prospect that could then be used to take out loans or credit cards or to create a bank account that could then be used to launder money,” Mr McQuillan told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mr Doessel says identity theft is not only about the initial loss of monies, but if the fraud amounts to credit accounts in the young victim’s name going undetected and unpaid past 60 days, creditors will issue defaults.
“It need not be major fraud to have a detrimental effect. Credit file defaults for as little as $100 can stop someone from being able to obtain credit for 5 years. So any misuse of someone’s credit file can be extremely significant,” he says.
He says the onus is on the victim to prove to creditors they didn’t initiate the credit.
“The fact that the perpetrator is long gone and the actual act of identity theft happened years earlier will only add to the difficulty for the young person in recovering their good name,” he says.
Experts recommend parents and young people continue to update their skills on how to be cyber-smart. The government’s ‘stay smart online’ website offers some top tips about using the internet which can be discussed with young people at home and school.
Make sure your computer is secure-follow the advice in the Secure your computer section of this