Many online services require users to provide some personal information in order to use their service. Prior to providing personal information, you should think about what can be done with your personal information and assess whether you are still happy to pass on these details. In addition to inappropriate or illegal use of information, disclosing personal information online can impact your digital reputation.There are several online activities that you should be aware of that may require a level of disclosure of personal information. These include:
Spam, scams, identity theft and fraud are just some of the more serious issues that you might face if you are sharing personal information online.
Spam is a generic term used to describe electronic 'junk mail'—unwanted messages sent to your email account or mobile phone. The content of spam messages can vary from promoting products or services to offensive or fraudulent material. Some can also spread computer viruses.
You can reduce the amount of spam that you receive by:
More information about spam and how to make a complaint is provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Cookies are a web browser tool that store information about browsing activity and report this back to the website. Cookies allow websites to remember users and save personal settings. Personal information may be collected and shared using the cookie. To help protect your information, it’s good practice to delete your cookies on a regular basis.
Internet-based fraud is when the internet is used to steal information and resources for financial gain. Simple fraud scams can seek money or personal details, while others seek personal information that will be misused to obtain money, resources or information by deceptive means.
Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves stealing money or gaining benefit by one person pretending to be someone else. It can have terrible consequences, both financially and emotionally.
Fraud can occur in many ways—from somebody using credit card details illegally to shop online, to having a person’s identity assumed by another to open bank accounts, take out loans and do business illegally, under that name.
Sophisticated information gathering tools such as malware and spyware enable fraudsters to gather personal information about the person they target.
Scams are often sent via email but can also be sent by instant messaging and SMS. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) SCAMwatch website anyone can fall victim to a scam. Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and scammers manipulate people into responding. Scams can appear to come from authoritative sources, like a well-known bank or mobile phone provider. They may make people fearful that they will miss out on a special offer, or feel ashamed of themselves for refusing to help a person or group in need.
If in doubt about the legitimacy of a website, call the organisation it claims to represent. The SCAMwatch website provides further advice on how to identify and report potential scams.
It’s important to understand how personal information is used online and how to protect your information and digital reputation.The following tips are a great basis for protecting your personal information online: