Are you at Risk of Identity Crime?
What do Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Al Gore have in common?
They have all been the victim of identity crime!
With identity crimes on the rise, we are raising awareness to our clients and readers of the importance of securing your identity.
What is identity crime?
Identity crime includes:
- the theft of personal identity information and related financial information;
- assuming another identity for fraudulent purposes;
- producing false identities and financial documents to enable other crimes.
Identity crime isn’t new. We’ve all heard of someone who has received a scam email. Only last week I received an email from a “lawyer” claiming I was the sole benefactor of a large inheritance left by King Otumfuo Opoku of Nigeria. All I have to do is give them my bank details and I’m free to retire in luxury. Sound’s convenient, right?
Identity crime is one of the most common crime types in Australia, affecting between 750 000 to 900 000 people each year, with an estimated annual cost of at least $1.6 billion. Identity crime has become one of the fastest growing and most common crimes affecting Australians each year—more people report being a victim of identity crime than assault, robbery, motor vehicle theft or household break-ins (National Identity Crime and Misuse Measurement Framework pilot report 2014)
So what can you do to protect your identity?
- Use secure passwords and change them regularly – maybe consider a password protection program.
- Look over your bills and credit card statements regularly – make sure nothing is out of the ordinary and if you notice a discrepancy, contact your provider immediately.
- Don’t give out personal information to unsecure websites – a web page containing “https” in the address or a padlock symbol next to the address field is a secure site. This means that the information you provide will be encrypted or scrambled, protecting it from hackers.
- Use firewall, virus, and spyware protection – update it regularly to keep your computer safe from “uninvited guests”.
- Shred documents that contain sensitive information – Invest in a cross-cut shredder that leaves no trace of the once-whole document. For business, consider a document destruction service (shredding, burning).
- Secure your pin codes – cover the key pad when using an ATM or Eftpos machine.
- Secure your mailbox – use a lock and when you move, redirect your mail.
- Protect your privacy on your mobile device – beware of untrusted apps. Clear out unused apps. Erase all apps before your recycle and avoid apps that leak your information.
Anyone can be a victim of identity crime with the implications not only hurting your finances but your personal identity also.
The Money Edge | Bundaberg