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Social media enables cyber criminals to build profiles for identity theft

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Monday, 23 September 2013 19:40 Written by DFM News

Criminals are tracking the lives of children online, harvesting personal information to steal their identities once they become adults, police say. The personal details are gathered, sometimes for years, before being used to take out loans, create false accounts and commit crimes. Queensland police fear a generation of youngsters could be burnt by their obsession for revealing all on the internet - left with bad credit ratings or associated with crimes they had no part in.

Detective Inspector Phillip Stevens from the police service's fraud and cyber crime group said criminals were harvesting the information for their own illegal purposes or to sell it to other fraudsters. He said social media sites were prime sources of information for online criminals. Names, ages, places of birth and addresses were all being stored and he warned parents to stop their children putting too many details online.

"Everyone is a potential victim but we see children as vulnerable (because of the level of detail they post online),'' Insp Stevens said. He said products such as low-document loans allowed criminals to apply for money over the internet. The lack of robust identity checking was enabling fraudsters to take out loans with stolen identities, he said.

"By using a computer, criminals have no borders, can access more victims and recycled stolen identities." He said by the time some children and adults become more savvy about their online personal details they may have already been a victim. "Identities are used for more than just fraudulent financial gains, they also used within the criminal environment as a means of providing a level of anonymity, in order to evade traditional policing methodologies.

"If you have access to a supply of identities you can hide within the environment, commit crime under one name and hire a car with another. It makes it very difficult for police to actually know who they are looking for."

Read on at news.com.au

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