How much do you think your personal details are worth? Why would anyone be interested in your driver licence number, date of birth or address? In fact, your identity is one of the most valuable assets that you have. Seemingly ordinary details such as these are highly-sought after by criminals.
Identity theft is one of the most common types of crime in Australia. It occurs when someone gains access to your personal information to steal money or gain other benefits such as opening mobile phone or bank accounts and credit card applications.
Online identity theft is a form of cybercrime, which also includes online scams, hacking, attacks on computer systems and cyberbullying. The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (the ACORN) is a national policing initiative where you can report cybercrime and find information on how to avoid it.
Cybercriminals use a range of techniques to steal personal information, including hacking into online accounts; ‘phishing’ where people are tricked into giving out their details; or scouring social media accounts to find out personal information or to target specific groups.
Online shoppers can also be deceived into revealing personal information. People looking for music and festival tickets online are often targeted by scammers. Criminals have been known to request copies of identification to confirm the buyer’s identity before sending tickets. Unfortunately, the tickets don’t exist, and the cybercriminal not only gets away with your money but also your personal information.
Just as you take steps to protect your valuables in the real world, there are simple ways to protect your privacy online. Activate privacy settings on your social media accounts; choose strong passwords and change them regularly; and be aware of the privacy policies of websites and businesses that you use.
Above all, limit the amount of personal information you share online – it’s disturbingly easy to piece together a picture of somebody’s life with just a few snippets of personal information.
Privacy Awareness Week is held from 3-9 May to raise awareness of the importance of privacy in everyday life. Take a few minutes this week to review the amount of personal information you have online – it could save you from being a victim of identity theft.
For more information and to report cybercrime visit www.acorn.gov.au.
This was brought to you by Acorn.