The 2015 Cybercrime and Fraud Report released by credit information and analysis company Veda has revealed that one in four Australians now claim to be the victim of identity theft or fraud. Many more are likely to have been affected without being aware of a security breach.
The report illustrates how criminals are becoming more tech savvy, with 50 per cent of credit application fraud now occurring online – up 33 per cent from last year. Furthermore, credit applications involving identity takeovers in Australia increased by 59 per cent over the past two years.
While 70 per cent of Australians are worried about putting information online, Veda’s head of cybercrime Fiona Long points out that “fewer than one in two Australians (44 per cent) regularly change their online passwords and only 66 per cent use secure web pages (https) when transacting online. Almost one third (32 per cent) of Australians publish their full birth date on social networking sites, which is a key piece of personal information used to verify someone’s identity.”
“Most people think that simple and accessible online measures are effective in preventing their personal data from being stolen, but few people actually do basic things to mitigate the risk of identity fraud. As fraudsters get more sophisticated, consumers need to get smarter about how they protect their personal information such as passwords, personal details and financial information,” she added.
Ms Long also noted that stealing credit cards is no longer the number-one priority for most sophisticated criminals, with a full identity takeover now the main goal. Identity crimes cost the Australian economy $2 billion a year with an additional $350 million spent on preventing and responding to these crimes.
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Technological advancements have dramatically changed the world in which we live over the past decade, with almost every essential service or product being managed, accessed or purchased online. And our reliance on technology will only increase in the coming years.
The pleasing statistic to emerge from Veda’s 2015 Cybercrime and Fraud Report is that 90 per cent of respondents had anti-virus software installed on their computer, a much higher percentage than in previous reports. For the average home user, an anti-virus program, even a free version, is the first and only line of defence in preventing malware from installing itself on their computer and stealing critical information. If you don’t have an anti-virus program installed, I recommend you read Ryan’s review on the top three anti-virus programs for PC or MAC and install one today.
I wasn’t surprised to read that just 44 per cent of Australians change their online passwords regularly. My recommendation is that you update your passwords at least once every year and always make sure the password used for your main email account is different from any other account you use online.
Criminals will continue to target Australians through new and improved spam emails claiming to be from government departments, banks or even your local post office. Never open an email from someone you don’t recognise and be especially careful in regards to the attachments you open and links you click.
Finally, and most importantly, my oft-repeated phrase when talking about cybercrime is this: if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Have you or someone you know been affected by cybercrime? Would you know if you had been a victim of cybercrime? What measures have you put in place to prevent this from happening to you, or are you of the opinion that “it won’t happen to me”?