19 August 2020

This year’s Scams Awareness Week (17-21 August) aims to highlight the dangers of identity theft and the importance of protecting your personal information.

As part of our support for the event, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is sharing tips to avoid phishing scams and protect your privacy online.

In 2019, Australians made more than 167,000 scam reports to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch, and reported a total loss of almost $143 million.

Phishing scams are one of the most common scams reported to Scamwatch, with more than 25,000 reports last year involving  losses of over $1.5 million.

More than four in ten scams either targeted victims’ personal information or involved the incidental loss of personal information.

Phishing is also a leading cause of data breaches, accounting for 15% of the 518 mandatory data breach notifications to the OAIC between January and June 2020.

You can take practical steps to keep personal information safe using these tips:

  • Always ask why, how and who — don’t give out personal information unless you are comfortable with how it is going to be used
  • Use strong and unique passphrases for email accounts to reduce the risk of login details being compromised or stolen
  • Avoid using unsecured wi-fi networks for secure transactions, like banking or online shopping, and check the website you‘re using is secure by looking for the padlock symbol and ‘https’ at the beginning of its domain name
  • Be aware of what you share online and adjust your privacy settings on social media to help protect your personal information
  • Contact your financial institution if you find unfamiliar or suspicious activity in your transaction history, and check your credit report.

There are many types of fraud and online and email scams out there. Find out what to do if you’re a victim of identity fraud here.

The OAIC is a member of the Scams Awareness Network, made up of government regulatory agencies and departments in Australia and New Zealand that work alongside private sector, community and non-government partners to raise public awareness and disrupt scams.

Find out more about this year’s Scams Awareness Week campaign at Scamwatch.