We manage so many aspects of our life online. Have you ever stopped to question how complacent you might be with your identity?
According to Scamwatch, in 2019, Australians lost at least $4.3 million to identity theft. Identity theft is becoming more common – we’ve outlined some key things to be aware of and some tips to help you stay safe online.
Is your phone suddenly out of service?
There are a few cases of phone porting every month. If a fraudster gets hold of your mobile phone number and account details, they can call your provider, transferring your service to a new provider. The fraudster can use your online banking SMS verification service to start emptying your bank accounts.
If your phone suddenly goes dead or has no signal, that’s a warning sign. Check if it’s a genuine outage.
- If your phone loses service, ask a friend on the same service if they are having problems.
- If you suspect your phone has been hacked, call your phone provider and your bank immediately.
How strong are your passwords?
Remembering multiple passwords is a constant source of friction in online life. However, weak and commonly used passwords like ‘password123’ are the easiest way into your identity.
Once a fraudster has one password, they’ll test it on everything – from social media to online banking. It’s not enough to change one character of a compromised password, as fraudsters will test this.
- Stop using the same password across multiple platforms.
- Use a password manager to make it easier – then you just need one strong password to access your encrypted password vault.
How much are you sharing on social media?
So much of the seemingly innocuous information you share on social media could be a golden ticket to your identity – it’s important tobe careful with what you post.
Look into the information you share as public on social media profile page such as your full name, date of birth, or email address, and ask yourself whether it’s necessary. Limit public access to this information or remove it.
To reset your passwords, you usually have to answer security questions. The problem is, you’re probably leaving tell-tale signs across your social media channels. Examples include where you went to school, the names of your children, your mother’s maiden name and even your date of birth.
- Keep your privacy settings on social media set high.
- Ensure that your passwords are unique – not just regularly changing passwords, where one or two characters alters.
- Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
Has any of your mail gone missing?
If you haven’t received a regular statement by post lately, there’s a good chance you could be a victim of ‘boxers’ - people who raid mailboxes for valuable credit card and bank account details.
With a few documents they could have enough information to take out credit in your name. It’s important to check your credit file at least once a year, because it’s your responsibility to tell your bank if there is any unusual activity.
- Switch to online statements. Notifications are usually sent by email, but documents are typically not linked from email.
- Check your credit file every year.
Do you ever use public Wi-Fi?
If you’re travelling, it’s tempting to log in to the free café or hotel Wi-Fi. But if you then do any online banking or other transactions, your data could be at risk.
- Save online financial transactions for secure Wi-Fi.
- Avoid logging into email address or social accounts on publicly available Wi-Fi.
- Consider using a VPN, or using mobile data.
In every case, your best defence is to have unique password and to use two-factor authentication where possible. Be alert, look for clues – and if anything looks suspicious, let your bank know.