As part of National Consumer Fraud Week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC and Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland were at Blacktown Library today to launch a new booklet to help Australians protect themselves from identity theft.
The Federal Government’s Protecting Your Identity booklet provides practical advice on protecting personal information, real life examples of scams and steps to take to avoid risks of identity theft.
“Identity theft can start with the theft of items left in your mailbox while you’re not at home or from information you post on social media sites about yourself or your family,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“This guide gives Australians the best expertise and advice to guard their identity and what to do if they think it’s been stolen.”
Last year a survey commissioned by the Attorney General’s Department found that 7 per cent of respondents had been victims of identity crime in the previous six months – up from 5 per cent in the 2011 survey.
Half of victims had their identity stolen over the internet through a virus, a scam or social media.
“People need to be aware of what can happen if their identity is stolen and the steps they can take to protect themselves,” Ms Rowland said.
“The stress, financial costs and damage from someone else abusing your identity can last for years so I urge everyone to read this important booklet.”
Australians can reduce their risk of becoming a victim of identity theft by following these simple steps:
- Secure your mailbox with a lock and, when you move, redirect your mail.
- Be cautious about using social media, and limit the amount of personal information you publish online.
- Secure your computer and mobile phone with security software and strong passwords, and avoid using public computers for sensitive activities.
- Secure your personal documents at home and when travelling.
- Learn how to avoid common scams at www.scamwatch.gov.au.
- Be cautious about requests for your personal information over the internet or phone and in person in case it is a scam.
- Investigate the arrival of new credit cards you have not requested or bills for goods and services you have not purchased.
- Be alert for any unusual bank transactions or missing mail.
- If you are a victim of identity theft, report it to the police and any relevant organisations.
- Order a free copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency on a regular basis, particularly if your identity has been stolen.
Mr Dreyfus said that, in addition to providing practical information for individuals, the Government is moving ahead with new Privacy Alerts to require businesses and government agencies to alert people when a privacy breach occurs.
“The new laws will alert consumers to breaches of their privacy, so that they can change passwords, improve security settings and make other changes as they see fit.”
Further identity security advice and electronic copies of the Protecting Your Identity booklet are available at www.ag.gov.au/identitysecurity.
Media contact: Gia Metherell 0477 366 575; Annie Williams 0428 040 522 (Dreyfus) – Nick Trainor 0407 078 138 (Rowland)