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JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
Protect Your Financial Identity Website
provides practical prevention tips

Sydney, 26 March, 2007: Banks, police and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) are urging consumers to take some steps to minimise the risk of criminals committing identity theft.

The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA), Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) and the ASIC are advising consumers to visit a website which assists people to protect their financial identity in everyday life and minimise the damage if a problem occurs.

The website – www.protectfinancialid.org.au – provides practical tips on reducing identity fraud risks, simply and effectively.

The website provides:

  • Tips to protect you and your business
  • A quiz to highlight personal security risks
  • Fact sheets including ‘If your wallet or handbag is stolen’ and ‘Checking your credit file’; and
  • Who can help.

The ABA, its member banks and the AHTCC are supporting the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce’s (ACFT) Scamwatch campaign which this week is highlighting identity protection. ASIC is a principal participating agency in this campaign.

Identity theft is where someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. It may occur when a criminal steals or comes into possession of your personal information such as your name, credit/debit card details, address, date of birth, bank account, drivers’ licence etc and assumes your identity to commit fraud.

David Bell, Chief Executive of the ABA, said: “It’s really important that if you get an email and it asks for your Internet banking password or PIN, you should be immediately suspicious and delete this email from your system. A bank will never ask you for this confidential information.”

“There are some other practical fraud prevention steps such as locking your letterbox, installing anti-virus and firewall software to protect your computer and making sure you shop with trusted companies with secure websites.”

Director of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, Federal Agent Kevin Zuccato, said the message to consumers was clear. “You have to be just as streetwise on the Internet as you would when approached by someone on the street. You wouldn’t give someone your online banking password if they asked for it in the real world – the same goes for the online world. By taking some simple precautions, we can all make it harder for the thieves.”

Another good tip is to regularly check your credit reference file to see that nobody has been trying to access credit in your name.

"One way to ensure you haven't been targeted by scammers is to check your credit report at least annually. If you find that it includes enquiries from institutions you haven't dealt with, or you have been marked as having unpaid accounts that you have not ever heard of, you might have become the victim of an identity theft. If this happens contact the named institution immediately. You can get a free copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency. Contact details for credit agencies and more tips for what to do if you suspect you are a victim of identity fraud are available on the www.protectfinancialid.org.au site," ASIC's Executive Director of Consumer Protection, Mr Greg Tanzer said.

For further information:

Australian Bankers’ Association
Heather Wellard
Phone: 02 8298 0411
Mobile: 0409 830 439

Australian High Tech Crime Centre
AFP National Media: 02 6275 7100

Australian Securities and Investments Commission
Danielle Huck
Phone: 03 9280 3407
Mobile: 0417 540 769

ENDS

     

IMPORTANT NOTE

This website gives information of a general nature and is not intended to be relied on by readers as advice in any particular matter. We suggest that you consult your financial planner on how this information may apply to your own circumstances.