Cyber incidents leading to personal identity theft are becoming increasingly common, with 1 in 4 Australians having been a victim or at risk of cyber theft at some point in their lives.
For people who have not experienced it, identity theft may seem like a minor incident, however, it can have long lasting consequences. Not only is the victim faced with the trauma of this very personal form of theft, the burden of fixing the damage caused by identity crime often falls squarely with them.
Read on to learn 5 simple ways you can better protect yourself from the risk of cyber theft, both now and in the future. You can also learn more about the support available if you do fall prey to personal identity theft.
Protect your personal and financial info
Identity theft often occurs when people unwittingly share their personal information through a fraudulent interaction. Make sure you only share your personal information with organisations you trust, and never share online account details, credit card information or personal documents with people you don’t know.
Be alert to fraud in communications
Unsolicited emails and text messages may compromise your device if opened. Check for key indicators of non-legitimate communications, including spelling or grammar errors, unusual logos, requests for “urgent attention” or if they ask for your personal information. Most entities including banks, government agencies and major corporations will not request personal information via text or email.
Keep your devices secure
There are several simple ways you can ensure your device is protected. These include, never giving a third-party access to your device; always setting devices to auto-lock and ensuring they are passcode protected; and using trusted and reputable antivirus software on all devices. Also, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks as others can use them to access your device.
Consider your passwords
Many people use the same password over multiple accounts for convenience. This is a leading cause of identity theft. To stay protected, create long, complex passwords and consider using a reputable and secure password manager to store them. Setting up multi-factor authentication for your accounts (i.e., an additional code being sent by SMS) is another way to keep your accounts secure.
Monitor for suspicious activity
Getting credit reports (via reputable credit report agencies) is often a good early indicator if your identity is being used for financial fraud. Checking your credit card and/or bank statements regularly for transactions not made by genuine card holders will also keep you on the front-foot should any fraudulent activity occur.
Support when you need it
If you find yourself the victim of a cyber incident or identity theft, ID Support NSW makes it easier to access help. They also offer advice for how you can better protect your identity for the future.
Watch our video inspired by real NSW customers who have been victims of identity theft, and see how ID Support NSW can help (embed video).