What it is
Identity theft is a form of fraud. It's when someone uses someone else's personal information to get something they're not entitled to, like a credit card, passport or driver licence.
How to protect yourself
Be cautious about giving out personal information
Check the privacy controls on your social media accounts. Set them so only your friends and family can see your full details. Don’t put too much personal information on social media.
Stop and check before you give out any personal information. Make sure you know how the companies you deal with will contact you, and know what kind of information they’ll ask you for. For example, a bank should never email you with links to online banking and ask you to login.
If you’re not sure why you’re being asked for information, call the company directly to check what they want it for. Businesses are legally obliged to only ask for information they need.
Use strong, unique passwords and turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Choose different passwords for each of your online accounts — don’t use the same password for every account you have. Consider using a password manager to manage them.
- Turn on 2FA for your online accounts.
- Make sure that the answers to your account recovery questions aren’t easy to guess – your answers don’t need to be true, just something that you can remember.
Keep up with your updates
When you’re alerted to an update for your device or one of your apps, don’t ignore it – install it as soon as possible. You can set this up to happen automatically with Windows and a lot of other applications like Office.
Use secure connections
- Make sure your home wireless network is secure.
- Be cautious when connecting your computer to unsecure networks like free WiFi or internet cafés.
Here’s what to do if you’re affected by online identity theft.
If your social media accounts have been taken over by someone else
Contact the service's support desk for advice on getting them back.
If you think someone has access to your financial accounts or documents
- Report any documents — like passports or driver licence – that you think someone else has used without your knowledge.
- If you have an issue with your credit card or any of your bank accounts, call your bank immediately.
- Check your bank statements for any transactions that you didn’t make. Cancel any purchases you didn’t authorise.
- Contact the service provider for your online accounts – like your bank or your email provider. Let them know what’s happened and ask what they can do to help.
- Change the passwords for any online accounts you think might be at risk.
- Get a free credit check done. This will let you see if any accounts have been opened in your name. There are three main credit check companies in NZ, and you’ll have to contact all of them. You can ask to have your credit record corrected if there’s any suspicious activity on it.
Are you a victim of identity theft? – Department of Internal Affairs
Report the issue to CERT NZ
You can also report an online issue or security incident to us at CERT NZ.