Identity theft

You might have experienced information about you being misused. This might have happened as a result of theft of personal documents or because an organisation or agency has let you know about a data breach affecting you. Under Australian privacy law an organisation or agency has to tell you if a data breach is likely to cause you serious harm.

Identity theft is where someone gains a benefit by pretending to be someone else without their consent. It is a type of fraud and is illegal. Examples of identity theft include somebody using your credit card without your permission, stealing money from your bank account, and sending emails from your account without your permission. Identity theft and fraud are just some of the more serious issues that you might face if you are sharing personal information online.

Identity theft can happen in many ways including as part of a well-organised international scam or by someone you know. It can happen online or over the phone. It can also happen when someone gains access to the personal information in your wallet, mail or other places.

This page has information on how your online identity can be stolen, where to find information to protect yourself from identity theft, who to tell if you have been the victim of identity theft and where to get support.

How can my online identity be stolen?

Online identity theft is increasingly common. It can occur in a number of ways. For example, if someone creates or uses a profile on a social networking site under a fake name or by using someone else’s personal information, it is identity theft. Some social networking sites have rules to avoid identity theft. Profiles that break those rules can be removed from the site.

Perhaps an identity thief has hacked into your online accounts. This can happen when an identity thief gets hold of your password, the answers to your security questions or your login information. It can also happen through computer viruses.

How can I protect myself from identity theft?

There are many sources of information on how to protect your personal information particularly online, including:

Who should I tell if someone has stolen my identity?

If someone has stolen your identity to access your money, contact your bank or credit society and the police immediately.

Visit the ReportCyber to securely report instances of cybercrime (such as hacking, online scams, online fraud, identity theft and attacks on computer systems). It also has information on how to recognise and avoid common forms of cybercrime.

If someone is using your identity on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter, report it to the website administrator. If you are a child, tell an adult.

Where can I get support as a victim of possible or actual identity theft?

If you think your personal information is at risk, for example, because you have lost or had your purse or wallet stolen and your personal information is at risk or there has been a data breach, you may be able to get assistance from IDCARE on 1800 595 160 Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm AEDT. IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s free and anonymous national identity theft support service. IDCARE will work with you to develop an action plan to deal with your situation.


Reviewed: 24 January 2024


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.