Identity theft is on the increase across the globe, with over 25% of all fraud reported in Australia involving false identities. In its simplest form, false identities are created using fake documents: much worse is when criminals take the identity of a real person and use his documents - such as credit cards - to run up huge bills in his name. Other crimes may also be perpetrated in the person's name. Very often, the first the innocent victim knows about any of it is when a debt collector comes calling. Or it may be when he is refused a loan or finds a great deal of money gone from his saving account.
The victim sometimes knows people who commit this kind of fraud; they can be family or 'friends'. Some people find the temptation to tap into the finances of another person just too big to resist. Never let your personal details such as credit cards numbers or PINs for bank accounts become known to other people, even those you trust. Don't give your details to anyone over the phone either, even if they sound friendly.
Credit card receipts should be torn into pieces or shredded by machine before disposing of them. Thieves often go through trashcans to get these details. When you receive bank statements, go through them carefully to make sure there are no purchases there that cannot be accounted for. And if you even suspect fraud, then contact your financial institution to cancel all your cards and prevent access to your accounts - and report it to the police.