So far this year we have posted about many issues that have arisen concerning the security of our personal information in this age of technology, and the possible dangers identity theft poses for our credit file.

It is no secret that it is essential to take steps to keep our personal information safe. Why? Because regardless of whether our card/s will be reimbursed should we become victims of fraud, there is still the very real ramification of having our credit file tarnished by any identity fraud – and the inability to obtain credit for up to 5 years can be a huge financial loss.

Events which have transpired recently have made us all feel quite nervous about who has the potential to use our personal details for purposes of stealing our identity.

Issues such as the Sony PlayStation data breach, the attacks on Google’s U.S. Gmail account holders and the announcement of almost daily attempts at cyber-attack on Australia’s Foregin Affairs Department (just to name a few) have made us realise that identity fraud is indeed a reality for people in this country.

A positive to come from these issues is that our Government has decided to step in to give advice via a white paper as to how businesses, government and individuals can make some changes to the internet in the interests of the security of its users.

What do we do in the meantime? What steps can we take NOW to reduce our chances of becoming victims?

Recently we read some really great articles from ‘Savings’ on some practical ways we can all stay safe.

In their article – “Shopping Online, How to Do it Safely” by Francesca Sidoti, she provides some great tips. We like this one:

“Choose Your Location. Instinct is a funny thing. You have no hard reasons for why something feels off, it just does. And in this scenario, you should let it be your guide. Just as you wouldn’t hand over money to someone who looks dodgy, you should

[n’t] enter your details in a site that doesn’t feel right. If something seems amiss, do some research. Google the site, or call the contact number. Be wary as well of clicking on ads. Though they’re usually hosted by legitimate companies, it’s worthwhile keeping a critical eye on everything you are entering personal information into.”

Francesca also published an article “How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft,” which provides help with how to use your credit card safely. The two tips below are excellent to remember:

“Don’t’ give your credit card details out over the phone or email. Unless you’ve initiated the conversation. No legit company would ask for those details over the phone/email.

Don’t sign blank credit card receipts How often do you actually check the receipt you sign? If your answer is ‘not often’, you need to rethink your approach. Blank sections of a receipt can be used to add extra charges, which you will pay for because your signature will be down the bottom.”

We have compiled a quick list of some other ways we can prevent what has become the fastest growing crime in Australia:

  1. Keep virus software up to date on our computers. Install automatic updates and perform regular virus scans.
  2. Keep our privacy settings secure on all social networking sites.
  3. Keep our passwords and PIN numbers secure. Don’t carry PIN numbers with our credit/debit cards, change passwords regularly and use a variety of passwords for different purposes.
  4. Check all our credit card and bank statements each time they come in.
  5. Cross-shred all personally identifiable information which we no longer need, rather than throwing it straight in the bin.
  6. Buy a safe for our personal information at home.
  7. Do not give any personal information or credit card details to anyone via phone or email unless we are sure the site is secure, and or we can verify the company details.
  8. Be aware of who gets our personal information and for what purposes. What can these people do with the information they are gathering? For instance, is it really necessary for the site we are registering on to have our date of birth?
  9. Keep up to date with the latest scams by subscribing to the government’s ‘SCAM watch’ website.
  10. Check our credit file for free every 12 months. By requesting a copy of our credit file from one or more of the major credit reporting agencies,Veda Advantage, Dun & Bradstreet and Tasmanian Collection Service (TASCOL) we can be aware of any discrepancies which may need to be investigated. Often it is only through a credit check which comes back with defaults on our credit file do we realise we have been victims of identity theft.
  11. Report any incident of identity theft, no matter how small, or even if we have been reimbursed for the damage – to the Police. The more of us who report identity theft, the more effective will be our Government and Police response to it in the future.

For those of us who are already identity theft victims, it can be difficult to navigate the current credit reporting system to have the offending defaults removed from our credit file.

MyCRA Credit Repairs can completely remove defaults from credit files that have errors, are unjust or just shouldn’t be there. Contact for more help.

<p><ahref=”″>Image: Chris Sharp /</a></p>