Thursday, December 9th, 2010

AVG (AU/NZ) , the Australian and New Zealand distributor of AVG anti-virus and Internet security products, is cautioning online shoppers to protect themselves from identity theft this Christmas and not become a statistic of Australia’s fastest growing crime.

According to a Frost & Sullivan report issued in July, Australians will spend $12 billion dollars online this year, with 40 percent of that spent on overseas sites . And, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent figures, 800,000 Australians were victims of at least one incident of personal fraud during 2007 – that’s five percent of the population – which equated to nearly a billion dollars lost!

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ) said: “Don’t become a statistic of the online superstore this Christmas – shop safely online and avoid the Internet security pitfalls that allow cyber criminals to steal or compromise personal data.”

The signs are that Christmas 2010 is already shaping up as a boom time for online merchants. The season kicked off in the USA on Cyber Monday with sales up 20% on the previous year to just over $1 billion for the day. However, all of this activity also attracts the bad guys with their dodgy online stores, merchandise and rip-off tactics. “It’s festive season for the bad guys too,” warns Borrett.

As Christmas fast approaches and shoppers begin to let go of their wallets, AVG urges consumers to practice heightened vigilance and take necessary security steps while shopping online. Borrett recommends the following five steps to help people protect their identity while shopping online this holiday season:

1. ‘Tis the season for giving, but don’t give away your personal data:

There is no reason to disclose your address, phone number and credit card information if you are trying to get something free via the Internet. Never respond to emails that request you to provide your credit card info via email, and do not respond to emails that ask you to go to a website to verify personal (and credit card) information—also known as phishing scams. Set up a dedicated shopping e-mail account that is in no way affiliated with your personal, everyday e-mail account.

2. Don’t let your anti-virus security software expire:
A first step for all consumers is to ensure their PCs or Macs are protected and updated with the latest anti-malware technology, specifically making sure browser security enhancements are configured and enabled in anti-virus software. Consumers can download the Free version of AVG 2011, which has all the core advancements of security protection, from www.avgfree.com.au.

3. Don't settle for the top results of your search:
Advertisers and marketers work diligently to place their enticing deals to the very top of search results, hoping you will assume the results on top are the best. If you decide to scope out whatever pops up first, be extra careful and use commonsense – because cyber-criminals use the same tactics to highly position their tricky deals.

4. Don’t become password complacent:
Keep updating your passwords, created with a mix of letters, capitals, symbols and numbers, for credit card and bank accounts. Refresh e-mail accounts with an updated, unique password. Write them down and keep the information in a secure location.

5. Don’t use multiple credit cards for online shopping:
It is much easier to track transactions and detect suspicious activity if you limit the number of credit cards you use for online shopping. Make sure each card offers identity theft protection. Also, keep records of your online shopping – save confirmation pages as pdf records and keep e-mail confirmations.

“I know these reminders are just commonsense but they need to be kept front of mind. Just as you will ‘Stop. Revive. Survive’ on the road these holidays, so too should you ‘Stop. Check. Lock’ protection around your Internet travels,” Borrett advised.

AVG (AU/NZ) has a comprehensive range of security tips on its web site at http://www.avg.com.au/resources/security-tips/.

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AVG, Internet Security, online shopping, cyber-criminals, identity theft

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