Protecting Your Personal Information

protecting your personal information

Protecting Your Personal Information

Understanding how your personal information is used by the businesses and organisations that you interact with is key to protecting that information.

Australian Government agencies and organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million must comply with The Privacy Act which contains 13 Australian Privacy Principles.

While organisations must take steps to protect your privacy, there are also simple things you can do to strengthen your protection.

Steps to Protect Your Privacy

Read the Privacy Policies

You will only be able to know how your data is used if you read the privacy policy. While a lot of people simply click through the policies and head straight to the ‘I agree’ button, make it a rule that you read the policy before providing your details.

Ask Questions

After reading the privacy policy, if you are not sure of something, ask! Most organisations are more than willing to help you to understand why your personal information is required, how it will be used and who will have access to it.

This also goes for phone calls. If someone is calling you, asking for you to provide or confirm your personal information and you were not expecting the call, simply hang up. Phone a direct line to that business back and enquire about that call.

Sign Up to a Credit Monitoring Service

It is much easier to deal with breaches relating to your personal information before the data is used and far less costly. By signing up to a credit monitoring service such as Equifax, you will be alerted to early signs of potential identify theft or fraud. This service costs as little as $14.95 a month.

Prepare a Password Update Schedule

Schedule in your diary a quarterly reminder to update your passwords on important services like online banking, email accounts, paypal, ebay and social media. While it might be inconvenient, updating your passwords every 3 months makes it much harder for hackers to get into your accounts. Ensure that you are using different passwords for different accounts and that they are strong. Passwords should contain letters, numbers and symbols.

Set Up Two-Factor Authentication

For any services or accounts that allow you to use two-factor authentication, take the time to set this up. Not only will it make your accounts extra secure, but it will also notify you if someone is trying to login in real time.

Be Social Media Savvy

Scammers are evolving and their tricks to steal your personal information are getting very creative. When it comes to social media, ensure that your account is set to private and only share posts and updates with your friends. Be very wary of what you post and steer clear of posting personal information identifiers like location, address, workplace etc.

Be wary of scammers using social media quizzes and photos to steal your personal information. These seemingly harmless games can reveal information about yourself that hackers and scammers can use against you.

What To Do If Your Information Has Been Compromised

If your personal information has been compromised, some of the steps outlined above can be implemented again such as changing your passwords.

In addition, the following steps are recommended.

  1. If your data has been involved in a major data breach, check for updates via email and on the company’s website.
  2. Contact services that you use directly and ask them to place a note on your file that your personal information may have been compromised.
  3. Be very vigilant and pay extra attention to your account activity. Check your bank accounts and affected accounts daily and review your transactions.
  4. If you had previously signed up for credit monitoring, keep an eye out for any alerts relating to your personal data. If not, it would be a good idea to sign up now.
  5. Do not click on or respond to any suspicious emails, phone calls, texts or messages through social media.
  6. Report it. If you think your personal information has been used, you can report it to the police via ReportCyber and the ACCC’s Scamwatch.
  7. Alert your family and friends if someone has taken over your social media accounts or email.

Having your personal information compromised or used by scammers and fraudsters can feel violating. Everyday our personal information is vulnerable to misuse and we should take every step we can to prevent our information ending up in the wrong hands.

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