Identity theft is a prevalent danger in the Australian community. According to credit bureau Veda, almost 1 out of 5 Australians (17% of the population) has experienced identity theft at some point. Just between May of 2014 and May of 2015, 772,000 Australians were victims of identity theft, suffered an average of $4000 in losses, and spent 18 hours dealing with its consequences.
As we increasingly engage at more personal levels online – using the internet to make transactions and payments, submitting our personal information for various purposes, and exposing more of our lives in social media – online identity theft is a realistic threat to beware of. In order to protect yourself, we advise you to follow these tips:
Use protective software
Protect your computer and smartphone with good security software. Malicious software is the door that allows a hacker to pry into your personal information through your online activity, so having solid protection is key.
Keep your software updated
Regularly check for software updates on your computer and smartphone. Programs and apps are constantly evolving, and so they find ways in which they can make their software faster, better, and safer. You must keep them up to date in order to protect your devices from ever-changing viruses and security threats.
Beware of phishing emails
Phishing emails pose as legitimate and many a time well-known companies or organizations, and intend to redirect you to an ill-willed website. Some ways to recognize phishing websites are:
– Reading URLs from right to left: You will find the actual domain at the end of the URL.
– Making sure the URL starts with “https:” The “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see “https” it is not safe to submit personal information, so do not proceed.
– Looking out for URLs that begin with an IP address. For example, http://126.96.36.199/Iamyourbank/account-update/ — this is likely a phish.
If you find yourself being asked for your address, credit card information, social security number, insurance information, or account number and pin, do not proceed. If ever in doubt, contact the organization, company, or bank by phone.
Use secure passwords
Refrain from using the same password for more than one of your online accounts. Creating a long password with at least 1 number and 1 uppercase letter is a good way to make your passwords stronger.
Shop only at reputable websites
Make sure that the site is well-known, or if it isn’t, investigate it to make sure that it is safe to do business with. Going back to the tip we gave you above, check that the website has an “https” to make sure they have an encrypted, secure connection to process your payment.
Always know the status of your bank accounts, and make sure you understand and have authorized all transactions. Check your credit record and make sure that no actions have been taken that you’re not aware of.
You can also stay up to date with online threats and how to manage them by visiting Stay Smart Online, the Australian Government’s online safety and security website.