10 Ways to Protect Yourself from The Identity Theft Epidemic
Australia is a very connected country which brings great benefits but also an alarming rate of identity theft, with the Australian government estimating that the cost of identity crime is well over $1.6 billion each year[i] for individuals.
Identity fraud can come in traditional forms, such as stolen banking paperwork or customer records, or through electronic means, such as social media. Fraudsters piece together stolen identities by physically stealing documentation, hacking computers or scamming people into giving them personal details. Once an individual’s identity has been stolen, a criminal may use it to apply for a credit card, access online accounts, acquire a mobile phone or obtain a loan.
With 1.6 million Australians experiencing some form of fraud every 12 months[ii] it is essential to take steps to protect yourself, your business and your customers from identity fraud.
Here are 10 ways to protect against identity theft.
- Ensure all workplace hard drives are properly equipped with security safeguards and software and regularly update your security programs.
- Protect printed paper documents by keeping information in a secure location to prevent unauthorised access. Once the documents are no longer required, they should be properly shredded and destroyed.
- Have a data destruction policy that securely eliminates information that is no longer needed. Destroy the internal hard drives that store data after replacing computer and office equipment. Engage with a reliable data destruction company who provides secure paper and hard drive destruction services.
- Avoid your staff falling into common pitfalls by educating them about identity crimes and scams and promote safe cyber security habits.
- Minimise how much personal data you store online. Many consumers store sensitive data such as birth dates and credit card information online and on social media sites.
- Often identity thieves will use fraudulent emails offering benefits or impersonating an authoritative organisation, such as a bank or the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), to garner your personal information. Be aware for the signs that an email is fraudulent such as spelling mistakes or an unusual sender email address.
- Use strong password protection on any software platform or website that stores personal information and make use of added security features such as a multi-factor authentication.
- Avoid sharing your personal or confidential business information on public Wi-Fi networks.
- Be aware of criminals who use visual hacking to gain access to your personal information. Often, they will stand close to their victim as they use PIN codes on ATMs or relay credit card information over the phone.
- Enable alerts on your personal and business financial accounts so you are notified when transactions occur and be alert to fake invoices that appear to come from a trusted supplier.
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To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 2016. 4528.0 - Personal Fraud, 2014-15. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4528.0Main%20Features12014-15?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4528.0&issue=2014-15&num=&view=. [Accessed 17 April 2018].
[i]Australian Federal Police. 2018. What is identity crime?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/crime-types/fraud/identity-crime. [Accessed 17 April 2018].
[ii]Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 2016. 4528.0 - Personal Fraud, 2014-15. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4528.0Main%20Features12014-15?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4528.0&issue=2014-15&num=&view=. [Accessed 17 April 2018].