IT MAY be the season for giving, but Australians risk having their identities and finances stolen by giving away too much personal information when shopping online this festive period.
With an increase in online purchases of Christmas gifts, the Australian Federal Police and Abacus - Australian Mutuals, industry body for credit unions and building societies - urge people to take precautions when shopping online.
National Manager of the AFP's High Tech Crime Operations Neil Gaughan said cyber-criminals, like all criminals, would be preying on the vulnerability of potential victims during the holiday period.
"This is not a warning to avoid the internet, because Australians should be able to go online and enjoy the experience of shopping for their Christmas gifts," Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.
"But consumers should ensure they protect their personal and financial information, keeping in mind some basic steps when using your credit card online so as to prevent fraud and avoid any disappointment and stress.
"Just as you would lock your doors to prevent criminals entering your home this Christmas, there are some precautions everyone can take to try and prevent cyber-criminals from compromising your computer."
Some simple tips to protect yourself when shopping online this holiday period:
- Install a firewall, reputable anti-virus software and anti-spyware software, and run real time updates;
- Keep your passwords private;
- Research the merchant before placing an order;
- Read a website's privacy and security policies;
- Save all transaction details;
- Provide only necessary information about yourself;
- Don't click on links in emails from online retailers or online greeting cards as they may result in malware - malicious software - being downloaded onto your computer.