Many of the things we do online-banking, shopping, chatting with family and friends or even making new friends involve us giving out personal and financial information.
You need to know who you are providing your information to and be confident they will treat it securely and appropriately.
You also need to know how to recognise scam and hoax emails and websites to avoid your information being stolen or being mislead into paying money for fake causes, prizes or products.
Start by making sure your computer is secure. If you are not sure about what steps you need to take, see the section Secure your computer. There are a number of smart practices you can follow to make sure you are communicating, banking and shopping safely online.
- Make sure your computer is secure-follow the advice in the Secure your computer section of this website.
- Set strong passwords, particularly for important online accounts and change them regularly-consider making a diary entry to remind yourself.
- Stop and think before you share any personal or financial information-about you, your friends or family. Don't disclose identity information (drivers licence, Medicare No, birth date, address) through email or online unless you have initiated the contact and you know the other person involved.
- Don't give your email address out without needing to. Think about why you are providing it, what the benefit is for you and whether it will mean you are sent emails you don't want.
- Be very suspicious of emails from people you don't know, particularly if they promise you money, good health or a solution to all your problems. The same applies for websites. Remember, anything that looks too good to be true usually is.
- Limit the amount and type of identity information you post on social networking sites. Don't put sensitive, private or confidential information on your public profile.
- When shopping online use a secure payment method such as PayPal, BPay, or your credit card. Avoid money transfers and direct debit, as these can be open to abuse. Never send your bank or credit card details via email.
- When using a public computer, don't submit or access any sensitive information online. Public computers may have a keystroke logger installed which can capture your password, credit card number and bank details.
- Encrypt sensitive information. If you keep personal or financial information on your computer, consider taking steps to encrypt and protect sensitive files and folders.
In this section
Fact sheets and resources
- Social engineering - what is it and how it can be used for fraudulent purposes? (PDF, 262KB)
- Understanding password security (PDF, 270KB)
Smart behaviours to protect your personal and financial information - watch our video on protecting your personal and financial information. A text transcript is also available.
The Australian Bankers' Association (ABA), the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre have produced the Protect Your Financial Identity' website to assist consumers to protect their financial identities.
The Attorney-General's Department has published the second edition of the Protecting Your Identity guide: