Monday, June 24th, 2013 - Attorney-General
As part of National Consumer Fraud Week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC today launched a new booklet Protecting Your Identity to help Australians protect themselves from identity theft.

“Identity is one of our most valuable assets – if it is stolen, the stress and financial costs can last for years," Mr Dreyfus said.

“It can start with the theft of items left in your mailbox while you’re not at home or with information you post on social media sites about yourself or your family.

“This guide gives Australians practical, expert advice on guarding their identity and what to do if they think it’s been stolen.”

Last year a survey commissioned by the Attorney?General’s Department found 7 per cent of respondents had been victims of identity crime in the previous six months – up from 5 per cent the previous year.

Half of victims had their identity stolen over the internet through a virus, a scam or social media.

A recent survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology found 95 per cent of those surveyed had received at least one invitation from a scammer in the preceding 12 months. About one in eight of those surveyed had provided personal information; half of those also suffered financial loss.

Australians can reduce their risk of becoming a victim of identity theft by following these simple steps:

  • Secure your mailbox with a lock and, when you move, redirect your mail.
  • Be cautious about using social media, and limit the amount of personal information you publish online.
  • Secure your computer and mobile phone with security software and strong passwords, and avoid using public computers for sensitive activities.
  • Secure your personal documents at home and when travelling.
  • Learn how to avoid common scams at www.scamwatch.gov.au.
  • Be cautious about requests for your personal information over the internet or phone and in person in case it is a scam.
  • Investigate the arrival of new credit cards you haven’t requested or bills for goods and services you have not purchased.
  • Be alert for any unusual bank transactions or missing mail.
  • If you are a victim of identity theft, report it to the police and any relevant organisations.
  • Order a free copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency on a regular basis, particularly if your identity has been stolen.

Mr Dreyfus said that, in addition to providing practical information for individuals, the Government is moving ahead with new Privacy Alerts laws to require businesses and government agencies to alert people when a privacy breach occurs.

“The new laws will alert consumers to breaches of their privacy, so that they can change passwords, improve security settings and make other changes as they see fit.”

Further identity security advice and electronic copies of the Protecting Your Identity booklet are available at www.ag.gov.au/identitysecurity

Media contact: Attorney-General’s office - 02 6277 7300

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Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC

P: 02 6277 7300
W: www.attorneygeneral.gov.au

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As part of National Consumer Fraud Week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC today launched a new booklet Protecting Your Identity to help Australians protect themselves from identity theft.

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