It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Week this week, from 30 May to 3 June.

The Government holds this week to endeavour to help Australians understand cyber security risks as well as educate home and small business users on the simple steps we can take to protect our personal and financial information online and reduce the risk of identity theft.

Visit the website for information on events during the week.

These are the Government’s 8 top tips for cyber security :

1. Install and renew your security software and set it to scan regularly.

2. Turn on automatic updates on all your software, including your operating system and other applications.

3. Think carefully before you click on links and attachments, particularly in emails and on social networking sites.

4. Regularly adjust your privacy settings on social networking sites.

5. Report or talk to someone about anything online that makes you uncomfortable or threatened – download the Government’s Cybersafety Help Button.

6. Stop and think before you post any photos or financial or personal information about yourself, your friends or family.

7. Use strong passwords and change them at least twice a year.

8. Talk within your family about good online safety.

As identity theft is the fastest growing crime in Australia, these adjustments to our online life should be made as soon as possible to ensure we don’t end up becoming victims of fraud.

Becoming a fraud victim has serious ramifications for our hip pocket. We can be ripped off thousands of dollars if someone gets hold of our credit card details, or if they have a chance to use our personal details for fraud purposes, they can even take out personal loans and mortgages in our name.

When the identity theft goes so far as to affect our credit file, the issues can be huge. We are robbed of the ability to obtain credit.

So, think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars we would lose in a home loan we are unable to secure, for up to 5 years. Or the effect being black listed from being able to obtain credit for 5 years would have on our business. In many cases it would be financially crippling. We may even have to declare bankruptcy.

Not to mention the little ways we would be affected – no mobile phone plans, no internet plans and no car loans.

So the best thing we can do for ourselves is to prevent that crime from happening in the first place. We can follow the tips above and we can also raise awareness of the issue amongst our own group of family and friends and insist that anyone who has our personal information has a responsibility to keep it safe.

We can also check our credit file regularly, and act quickly on any discrepancies there. It may not seem like much to have an overdue payment on our credit file, but generally that is enough for a decline on a home loan. So if we consider a listing shouldn’t be there – we should look into having it removed from our file.

Credit file repair can be difficult, but if there is an error on our file it is worth pursuing. It can be made easier with the help of a credit repairer. A credit repairer will completely remove a default or series of defaults from our file if it contains an error, it is unjust or just shouldn’t be there.

If we have a default on our credit file that fits the above description, and especially if we suspect we have been the victim of identity theft we can contact MyCRA Credit Repairs to get our credit file checked and to have our file repaired back to the way it should be.