National Consumer Fraud Week 18 – 24 May 2015
An Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce initiative
Are you leaving your personal data wide open for scammers to find and use for fraudulent purposes? Sadly, identity theft is now one of the most common crimes in Australia, and can lead to all sorts of associated illegal activities.
Scammers steal your personal details to commit fraudulent activities. They may make unauthorised purchases on your credit card, or use your identity to open accounts such as banking, telephone or energy services. They might take out loans or carry out other illegal business under your name. They may even sell your information to other scammers for further illegal use.
These days scammers are after more than just financial information. All your personal details including photos, date of birth, home address, Tax File Number and driver’s license numbers are valuable to scammers. These are your unique identification records that are often used to verify who you are.
Having your identity stolen can be both financially and emotionally devastating. It can take months to reclaim your identity and the impact of having it stolen can last for years.
National Consumer Fraud Week 2015 is all about learning how to keep your personal data safe from scammers, and prevent identity theft from happening to you.
Follow SCAMwatch’s top 6 ‘protect yourself’ tips to leave scammers out in the cold
- Keep your personal details secure
Your postal mail and your online presence are the first place a scammer will look to piece together your details. Lock your mailbox, and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing out. Be careful sharing information about yourself online, including social media, blogs and other online forums.
- Think twice about what you say and do in an online environment
Whilst there are times when your personal details are required for legitimate reasons, such as signing up to a new service or buying something, always check that the person or organisation is who they say they are. Stop and think before filling in surveys, entering competitions, clicking on links or attachments, or even ‘befriending’, ‘liking’ or ‘sharing’ something.
- Keep your mobile devices and computers secure
These are a treasure trove of personal information for scammers. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a scammer – always use password protection, don’t share access with others (including remotely), update security software and back up content. Protect your Wi-Fi network with a password and avoid using public computers or Wi-Fi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.
- Choose your passwords carefully
Passwords are often the only barrier between scammers and your valuable information. Set and use strong passwords which are difficult to guess, and change them regularly. A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile, and don’t share your passwords with anyone.
- Beware of any request for your details or money
Scammers will try to trick you into handing over your data by using the names of well-known companies or government departments. If you think it’s a scam, DON’T RESPOND. Use the phone book or an online search to check the organisation’s contact details. NEVER use the contact details provided in the original request.
- Get a copy of your free credit report
Your credit report contains information on your credit history. You can get a free copy of your report every year to check that no-one is using your name to borrow money or run up debts. Find out how you can get your free credit report on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.
If you think your banking details have been misused, you should contact your bank or credit union immediately to let them know. You should also contact iDcare – a free government-industry service which works with you to develop specific response plans to your situation to reduce risk and impact. Visit the iDcare website or call 1300 IDCARE (432273).
For more information on how to get smarter with your data:
- check out staysmartonline.gov.au for practical tips on how to stay safe online
- read the Protecting your identity guide
- take the ID crime online quiz
- If you live in New Zealand, you can report a scam, subscribe to local scam alerts and find out more about scams on New Zealand’s SCAMwatch website.
Micro IT Australia offers a safety and security check of your computer and details.
Arrange a visit today to make sure your computer is protected from virus’s and is up to date, stopping scammers and hackers in their tracks.