Treat your personal information as you would treat your money – don’t leave it lying around for others to take.
Most people are very careful with personal documents such as a birth certificate or driver’s licence. You keep them in a safe place and wouldn’t give them to someone you didn’t know or trust.
You should do the same thing with your personal information online to prevent others from using this information to impersonate you.
With a stolen identity, a person may access your bank account, obtain credit cards or loans in your name or claim welfare benefits, and potentially ruin your credit rating.
Steps to protect your identity online
Use a strong password and do not share it with anyone. A random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation over eight characters long is recommended.
Check your billing and account records carefully to detect potential identity theft early.
Set up a separate email address for shopping and newsgroups. If you need to, you can then change this address without disrupting online business activities.
Only share your primary email address with people you know.
Be careful when signing up to mailing lists – spammers use the unsubscribe button to validate addresses.
Think before you fill out online forms. Ask yourself, how much information do I need to enter into this site?
Keep a record of what information you’ve given to whom.
Be careful how much personal information you post or reveal online
Users who share addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, and other personal information put themselves at a greater risk for identity theft
Identify theft or fraud occurs when personal details are used by someone else to deceive, to support some type of crime, or even just to play a joke. Identity theft is a form of identity crime (where somebody uses a false identity to commit a crime).
, stalking and harassment. This includes information you may post on your Facebook wall or someone else’s.
If you use social networking sites, adjust your privacy settings to control the amount and type of information you want to share, so that people you don’t know very well can only see certain parts of your profile.
Think about information spread across multiple sites as people can piece together information from separate websites. Identity thieves can piece together your identity from public information piece by piece like putting together a jigsaw.
What to do if your identity has been stolen
Notify financial institutions.
Notify relevant websites.
Request a credit report from credit bureaus.
Notify the authorities. A list of who to contact is included in the Protect Yourself Online-What everybody Needs to Know brochure published by the Attorney-General’s department.