27 January 2016

How to avoid identity theft: 6 tips to reduce your risk while shopping online

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The local shopping centre is not open 24 hours a day. It doesn’t allow you to compare prices from all over the world and it certainly doesn’t save petrol and hassle by coming to you and that’s the appeal of online shopping. But there’s a price to pay for all that added convenience: RISK.

Online retailers frequently require you to enter your personal information like home address, phone number and your credit card details in order to shop with them. This immediately makes you vulnerable to identity theft so it’s important to be cautious when ordering online.

According to a survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology, Australians undertook 6.1 billion transactions involving a credit or debit card, with 1.5 million of these being fraudulent last year. The survey also found that approximately half of those who had experienced some form of identity theft have suffered out of pocket financial losses totaling more than $850 000. To read more about the survey, click here.

 AIC’s Principal Criminologist Dr Russell Smith said while cybercrime is costly and frustrating for victims, it is important to be aware that traditional methods of deceiving are still widely used by cyber criminals.

 “Identity crime has been around for a long time. There are the tried and true methods of stealing information, like from a tombstone or taking letters out of mailboxes. So the old ways still exist,” said Dr Smith.

Here are 6 simple tips to protect you from the growing problem of identity theft whilst shopping online:

  1. Avoid shopping online or online banking from public computers – public computers may not have the security measures like firewalls and antivirus software that you have enabled on your home computer so entering personal information on them may put you at risk.
  2. Make sure you use a website that you know and trust – Is the site secure? Once you’ve decided to share your credit card or other personal information with the website make sure the website is protecting your information by encrypting it. Look for the lock symbol at the top of your browser and make sure the website starts with “https”.
  3. Read the website’s reviews - Lots of sites allow customers to rate their experience with vendors. Take the time to read these ratings to find out from past customers if they’ve had good experiences with the vendor you are considering. While you shouldn’t make a decision about these reviews alone, reviews can give you some information about the reliability and value of a vendor.
  4. Check the privacy policy – Another way of staying safe online is to check the privacy policy of the website you’re considering ordering from. The policy will let you know how they will use your personal and financial information. If you’re not comfortable with or can’t understand the website’s privacy policy, you should probably shop elsewhere.
  5. Keep records of your orders to track your purchases
  6. Use different passwords across all websites and change your passwords every 6 months

For more online shopping safety tips, click here 

The best part of my job as a Conference Production Manager is to create and manage my own conferences from concept to delivery, identify future conference topics as well as giving me a chance to expand my business card collection. Having a bit of a sweet tooth, you will always find me having lollies on my desk or you will catch me browsing on fashion sites during lunch breaks.

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