Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

In today’s interconnected world, where digital transactions and online activities have become the norm, protecting your digital identity is of paramount importance. Identity theft, a cybercrime that involves stealing personal information to commit fraud, has become increasingly prevalent. In Australia, as in many other countries, individuals are vulnerable to this threat. This article provides insights into the main points of protecting yourself from identity theft and outlines five essential strategies to shield your digital presence from exploitation.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a form of cybercrime wherein attackers steal sensitive personal information, such as your name, address, social security number, and financial details, to carry out fraudulent activities. These activities can range from unauthorised financial transactions to impersonation for further criminal activities.

Identity theft can still gravely affect Australians, from loss of finances to the mental health that loss will bring. A married couple found this out the hard way in August 2023, when their bank accounts lost an estimated $370k to fraudsters who were able to port one of the couple’s mobile phone numbers to their own devices. The couple alerted their vendors about possible suspicious activity on their accounts but they couldn’t liaise while on an overseas vacation as each vendor sought verification measures that were only possible with a now-compromised Australian mobile phone number. The above case also reaped condemnation from the Consumer Action Law Centre as the “worst” they’ve learned.

Main Points for Protecting Yourself

Here are some cardinal elements that if properly executed, can safeguard your digital presence.

Strong Password Management

Forming strong, unique passwords for each online account is the first line of defence against identity theft. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names, especially since some databases with a history of breaches could have them and cybercriminals can possibly figure out passwords from those two components. Instead, create complex passwords comprising a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

You may use a password manager to store all your access codes; the ACSC recommends choosing a password manager that can network your family’s home devices and is secure enough that the password manager vendor does not have a record of your master password. However, you cannot use the same password for at least one device or account, and should not use the password manager’s Remember Me prompt. 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification before accessing an account. This might involve a combination of passwords, biometric scans (like fingerprints or facial recognition), or one-time codes sent to your mobile device. Enabling MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access.

Beware of Phishing Attacks

Phishing is a common tactic employed by cybercriminals to trick individuals into revealing their personal information. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or links asking you to provide sensitive data – do NOT click on those links. Instead, directly type the website address in your browser – you can’t copy-paste the link either.

Regularly Monitor Financial Accounts

Periodically review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorised or suspicious transactions. If you notice any discrepancies, report them to your bank immediately, as well as government arms such as the ACCC Scamwatch and the office of the Australian eSafety Commissioner. This proactive approach can help identify and address potential identity theft incidents at an early stage.

The Australian government has long recognised the need to protect financial accounts from identity theft. In November 2023, Financial Services Minister/Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones urged the public to use their myGovID instead of inputting personal details when accessing the ATO portal. The move is aimed at stopping identity-based cyber fraud using stolen personal data. Government Services Minister Bill Shorten warned the banking community against using the ongoing development of Australia’s digital identity ecosystem to impose additional charges on depositors.  

Secure Your WiFi Network

Ensure your home WiFi network is protected with a strong password and encryption, plus a Virtual Private Network if you can. Cybercriminals can exploit unsecured networks to intercept your online communications and gain access to sensitive information. Additionally, avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions, as these networks are often less secure and more susceptible to hacking.

Strategies for Protecting Your Digital Presence

The above tips can be strengthened by continuing application of these pieces of advice.

Stay Updated on Cybersecurity Trends

Cyber threats evolve constantly, so staying informed about the latest cybersecurity trends is crucial. Follow reputable technology news sources, subscribe to cybersecurity newsletters, and educate yourself about new attack techniques. Awareness is the first step in staying ahead of potential threats.

Use Trusted Networks and Websites

When performing online transactions or sharing sensitive information, ensure you are using secure and trusted networks. Look for “https://”  in the website’s URL and a closed green padlock icon, which indicates a secure connection. Be cautious of unfamiliar websites, especially those requesting personal information. Some browsers, though, are capable of warning you that a website you could be visiting is under cybersecurity risk, giving you a chance to backtrack.  

Regularly Update Software

Keeping your devices’ operating system, antivirus software, and applications up to date is vital. The updates will come from a tech company’s official portal, containing security patches to stop newly-identified exploits. Some IT security experts recommend engaging a device’s “automatic update” option so it can receive the latest patch while you’re not using the device.  

Family Education

It’s important not only to protect your own digital identity but also to educate your family members, especially children, about online safety. Teach them about the dangers of sharing personal information online and the importance of adhering to cybersecurity best practices.

Use Secure Payment Methods

When making online payments, use secure platforms and payment gateways. Credit cards and reputable digital payment services often offer additional layers of protection against unauthorised transactions. For example, if you are at checkout in an online store and you are set for payment, the site will direct you to a special bank portal where you have to manually enter a credit-card’s details (including the three-digit CVV code at the back) and once the payment is confirmed, you will return to the store to possibly continue shopping. You will also receive a text notification indicating the card was used.

Avoid sharing your credit card details through email or unsecured websites. Certain e-commerce sites, in particular, will have notable digital protection methods such as the latest SSL encryption.


With the increasing prevalence of identity theft in the digital age, safeguarding your digital identity has never been more important. By following these essential strategies – from strong password management to staying informed about cybersecurity trends – you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to identity theft. Remember that online safety is a continuous effort, requiring vigilance, awareness and proactive measures to keep your digital presence secure in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only. 2 Ezi has no relationships with any company or individual mentioned in the article.

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