“They basically stole my whole identity within twenty-nine minutes”
Listen below to journalist Alannah Kerr speak about the dangers of online fraud.
Nicholas Grant, completely lost his identity last month and wants people to be alert and aware of any signs that they’re being hacked.
On the evening of August 28th, Mr Grant received a QUT-branded email, advising him to update his iPhone due to three flaws found in its software.
Whether this email was actually from the Queensland university, Mr Grant is still uncertain.
On the 29th of August, Mr Grant believes the hackers started hatching their plan to gain access to all of his private accounts.
“So I did that update on the Monday night, update went fine. Then first thing Tuesday morning everything was falling down around me,” said Mr Grant.
At work, Mr Grant noticed at 9:53am that his phone went to SOS only mode. “That’s when I realised something was not right,” Mr Grant said.
“I was in the middle of a three hour meeting and the next thing that appeared was an email saying please re-enter your password for Gmail, because they had a link through the mail app,”
Mr Grant continued, “Then I started to check things; tried to log into my Commbank and couldn’t log into that. It said the password had been changed,”
“By 10:22am they had transferred my phone number to Optus so they had full control of it. They had re-registered Netbank under their name, and they had got it onto the HTC phone that they had,”
Mr Grant is not alone. According to credit bureau Veda, over 770,000 Australians fall victim to identity theft in 2014-2015, costing the average victim about $4,000.
“By this time they had absolutely everything. They had started to sell some of my shares, and my bank account details were changed. I don’t know what else they were after but it was pretty scary,”
“All gone in twenty-nine minutes, then I saw transactions happening.”
The hackers gained access to all of Mr Grant’s online accounts and were able to apply for applications for credit cards, and could get a home loan in his name if they wished.
Luckily, Mr Grant is tech savvy, which ultimately, saved him a lot of damage.
Costing Australian identity fraud victims $1.6 billion collectively per year, taking on average 18 hours to resolve each issue. Mr Grant said that most people wouldn’t have realised as early as he did and therefore, would have been more adversely effected.
If he wasn’t in enough strife; Mr Grant had to take three days off work to try and fully retrieve his identity, costing him his valued time and effort.
Learning a lot from this situation, Mr Grant has asked his bank to make a note that absolutely no details are to be changed over the phone; they must be done in person made by appointment with identification, and he encourages other Australians to do the same.