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Moving to the Lucky Country (Australia, where else?) offers the best of the West. Lots of Tanks (Yanks) like yourself have visited the Gold Coast tourist area and loved it. The Sunshine State (Queensland) and NSW (New South Wales) have much to offer Tanks who shivered through this winter’s cold.
But like anyplace on this planet, there’s duffers (thieves) out to steal what they can, including your identity. According to a 2012 Australian Institute of Criminology study, about 95% of people surveyed received at least one scam-filled invitation.
Keep Your ID True Blue
There’s a lot going on when you move that can distract you. In between all the sorting, selling, giving away, and packing, take these steps recommended by Moving.com:
- Go through old files and shred anything with financial or personal information.
- Keep the most important documents on your person.
- Put documents you will ship to Oz in a very sturdy, secure, and locked container.
- About a month after you move, double-check to make sure services like utilities and subscriptions have been cancelled.
- Three months after the move, get copies of your credit reports. Each of the major agencies are required to provide one free report per year, so you can stagger the requests.
Consider Opening a Watchdog Account
You have to be proactive in order to stop identity theft during a hectic time like an overseas move. Consider putting your ID and credit on file with a watchdog service that monitors both. This is particularly important if you plan to maintain a US residence while you are in Australia. The best services monitor black market websites where stolen IDs are bought and sold. They will also verify requests for address changes. Visit Lifelock.com to see a list of credit and non-credit monitoring services available to US citizens.
Even if you’re considering a more or less permanent move Down Under, it’s still wise to maintain a US presence and address, says Yahoo Finance. Ask a reliable trusted friend or relative if you can register your address with them for mailing purposes. Give them power of attorney to handle credit and identity problems you might not be able to address from Oz. Try to maintain good credit in the US while you live abroad, so don’t cancel credit cards or bank accounts, and be sure to monitor them.
Opening New Accounts in Oz
Westpac Bank recommends that people moving to Australia open an account before they arrive. You’ll need to provide a passport number with expiration date, your email address, the date you plan to arrive, and the city you’ll reside in. Applications can be processed online.
Federal law in Australia requires anyone who wants to withdraw funds from a bank account to show 100 identity “points.” Documents that satisfy this requirement are similar to those in the US. Primary photo IDs, like a passports, are worth 70 points. A secondary one like an ID card from a foreign government (such as a US state or territory) are worth 30. Non-photographic IDs like a birth certificate won’t help. Copies of documents must be certified by a notary public, police officer, justice of the peace, and other specific authorities.
ID theft protection experts, including the Australian Federal Police, recommend that you request embedded microchips in any bank or credit cards you receive to thwart hackers.
About the Author: Wendi Graham is a travel writer, hotel concierge, plus antiques collector.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”