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Why Is Privacy Important?
Privacy issues arise almost every day, e.g. when you’re using Facebook, shopping or banking online or receiving calls from telemarketers. It is important safeguard our personal information, which includes our full name, address, phone number, bank details, birth date, and internet passwords.
If this information falls into the wrong hands, it can pose a safety risk and can be used in identity theft. An identity thief can use this personal information for a variety of malicious purposes, including making fraudulent purchases in your name. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the risk of that happening.
Ten ways to help keep your personal information private:
- When asked for personal information, ask why the information is needed and how they are going to use the information.
- Consider the situation before you disclose personal information.
- Limit the amounts of personal information you post on social networking websites.
- Check your records to make sure your information is correct.
- Read privacy policies.
- Make sure your personal information is not lying around and shred old mail and records.
- Sign up for the “Do Not Call Register” at www.donotcall.gov.au to avoid getting calls from telemarketers.
- Check security when using Internet cafes.
- Tick the ‘opt out’ box on forms.
- Know your privacy rights, visit www.privacy.gov.au for more information
How can I protect myself from Identity Theft?
Technology has made it easier than ever for thieves to steal personal information. With just a little bit of personal information (for example name, address, date of birth, bank account and credit card numbers, or passwords) an identity thief can open up a line of credit in your name. If a thief opens a line of credit in your name, for example by getting a credit card, the thief could charge a large amount of debt to your name. This creates a big problem and can potentially damage your credit rating. This might affect your ability to get a credit card or a loan from a bank in the future. In order to prevent identity theft, keep these hints in mind:
- If asked for personal information, ask why the information is required, what will be done with the information, and to whom the information will be disclosed. Only disclose the minimum amount of personal information.
- Careful consider posting any personal information about yourself online.
- Install anti-virus, anti-spy software, and firewalls on your computer.
- Regularly check your credit card and banking statements for suspicious transactions.
- Minimise the personal information you carry around, especially when at places where it could get lost or stolen.
- Shred all documents that contain personal information before throwing them out.
- Use the privacy settings on social networking websites.
- Watch out for scams.
- Monitor your credit report, see www.mycreditfile.com.au, www.dnb.com.au, www.tascol.com.au.
- For more information, go to www.scamwatch.gov.au or www.staysmartonline.gov.au.
Privacy and Social Network Websites
Social networking websites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter can be fun, but the sites can also pose a privacy risk. Even if you think information posted about you can only be viewed by your friends, when information is on the internet, you never really know who may have access to it. Your parents, boss, potential employer, teachers, or the police could see incriminating pictures or receive incriminating information about you via a social networking websites. In addition, personal information you post on the sites could be accessed by an identity thief and used to open fraudulent credit cards in your name. When using social networking remember these tips:
- Be careful about what information you post and what you upload onto social networking sites. Remember that you never know who will see it.
- Use the privacy tools available.
- Make sure that your anti-virus software is up-to-date.
Privacy and Online Banking and Shopping
While online banking and shopping is convenient, it does potential pose some privacy threats. Banks must comply with the Privacy Act to keep your information secure, however, you must also exercise caution when using online banking. Avoid using a public computer, such as a computer at an internet café or a public library, to do your online banking. Don’t click ‘yes’ if the computer offers to remember your banking password, especially if you’re on a public computer. Also, never reply to an email that says it is from your bank asking you to confirm your details, as it is probably a fraudulent email.
You should also be careful when shopping online. When shopping online, be sure you are shopping on a secure website (look for the ‘lock symbol). Also, read the privacy notice to find out how the website will use your personal information. If you do not feel sure about the safety or security of the website or how your personal information will be used, think twice before using the website.
For more information, see www.staysmartonline.gov.au.
Privacy and Telemarketers and junk mail
Telemarketers can be very irritating. One way to reduce calls is to add your phone number to the Do Not Call Register. Go to www.donotcall.gov.au. Although the register does not prevent market researches and charities from calling you, it does stop salespeople from calling you.
Junk mail can also be irritating. But luckily, according to Australian law, usually a business must stop sending you unsolicited (“junk”) mail if you ask them.
Page last updated July 10, 2009