Australians face identity crime epidemic
Exclusive media interviews: Identity crime
National Identity fraud Awareness week might have come and gone for another year, but identity crime is here to stay and it's time to all Australians to take action to protect themselves against the nation’s identity crime epidemic.
In 2009, identity crime affected around 4.4 million Aussies, a staggering increase on the previous year. The 2009 Veda Advantage Identity Crimes Report revealed that over 1.5 million Australians had their credit card skimmed, and 1.2 million had their bank account illegally accessed. Yet despite the fact that 80% of Australians say they are concerned about identity theft, 70% haven’t put simple protective measures in place.
We believe that there are five critical steps that all Aussies must take to start protecting themselves:
Step 1 – Secure and shred: get a post office box or lock for your street letterbox to protect your mail against theft and shred all documents with your personal details on prior to disposing of them.
Step 2 – Be tech-savvy: be wary of using public computers for internet banking and personal online transactions. Ensure that you logout properly and never save your email address or other personal details when using a public computer. Limit the amount of personal information you share in online networking sites and be careful to check the legitimacy and security of websites when making purchases online, regardless of whether the computer you’re using is a public or personal one.
Step 3 – Embrace change: 73% of Australians have never changed their PIN. Change PINs and passwords regularly and don’t keep a record of them in your wallet, on your phone or on your PC. Finally, make sure that you follow the first simple rule of PINs and passwords: don’t share them with anyone.
Step 4 – Monitor and protect: monitor your credit reference file regularly and sign on for the Veda Advantage alert service, which will notify you via email whenever a notification is made on your file, allowing you to take action quickly if someone is using your identity illegally.
Step 5 – Minimise exposure: get a debit card specifically for online and over-the-phone shopping rather than using a high-limit credit card. If the you have the details of your credit card stolen you can restrict your risk exposure to the limited amount of cash you store on the card.
It’s alarming to discover that so many people consider identity theft to be little more than an inconvenience, but the reality is that this is a major financial problem that can rapidly spiral out of control, leaving a trail of debt and emotional devastation in its wake.
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Analaura Luna is an author, wealth adviser and founder of Your Family Your Money. Your Family Your Money’s goal is to simplify traditionally complex financial strategies, demystify financial jargon and debunk common financial myths, becoming every family’s first stop for financial advice, information and inspiration.
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