Personal information and privacy

Personal and financial information is currency for criminals online. With your stolen identity, a criminal can access your bank account, obtain credit cards or loans in your name and potentially ruin your credit rating.

Use this guidance to learn how to protect your personal information and privacy.

Remember: Treat your personal information as you would treat your money—protect it and don't leave it lying around for others to take.

Steps you can take to protect your identity online

You need to be careful with how much personal information you reveal online. Sharing your addresses, telephone number, birthday, and other personal information can mean you are at a greater risk of identity theft, stalking and harassment. This includes information you post on social media.

You also need to think about what information you may have online that is spread across multiple sites. Identity thieves can piece together your identity from public information that is available about you online.

Take proactive measures to protect your information

  • Use strong passwords and don't share them with anyone. Ideally use a random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation over eight characters long. Learn more about using strong passwords.
  • Use 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.
  • Adjust your privacy settings on social networks to control the amount and type of information you want to share.

Moderate your activity online and monitor for signs of compromise

  • Check your billing and account records carefully to detect signs of potential identity theft early.
  • Be careful when signing up to mailing lists – spammers sometimes use the unsubscribe button to validate addresses.
  • Only make online purchases from companies that have a clear privacy policy and secure payment pages.  Find more information about safe online banking and payments.
  • Think before you fill out online forms and be careful with whom and how you share your information. Ask yourself: do I really need to give my information to this site?
  • Keep a record of what information you have given to whom.

Know what to do if your identity is stolen

  • Notify your financial institutions.
  • Change your passwords.
  • Notify the relevant websites.
  • Request a credit report from a reputable credit reference bureau.

Where to go for more help

ID Care

IDCARE is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity support service. IDCARE offers personalised support to individuals who are concerned about their personal information.

They also work with government and industry (large and small) to independently assess their capacity to respond to contemporary and emerging identity theft and misuse risks – whether physical or online. IDCARE does this to lift the standards of response, which in turn, will mean that the impact to clients and consumers from risks to personal information is lessened.

Find out more about IDCARE by visiting their website.