Aussie SME business owners are being warned to shred all paper-based confidential documents ahead of National Identity Fraud Awareness Week, which this year is running from October 12-18.
Now in its eighth year, National Identity Fraud Awareness Week (NIDFAW) is Australia and New Zealand’s only nationwide awareness campaign designed to help business owners protect themselves and their business from identity fraud – the world’s fastest growing crime.
Under the Privacy Amendment Act 2012, passed in March 2014, organisations found to be in breach of the Act can now be hit with penalties of up to $1.7 million. NIDFAW spokesman Zach Pote said businesses must ensure they have a process for receiving and disposing of documents that may contain sensitive personal information relating to business operations. Documents containing personal and financial information can provide fraudsters with sensitive information that has the potential to paralyse entire business operations.
“Business owners have a legal responsibility to protect their staff and client’s confidential information,” Pote said. “Whether you manage a florist shop or work in the health industry, your business holds confidential personal or financial information. If you fail to store or dispose of this information safely and it falls into the wrong hands, you risk prosecution under the Privacy Act for breaching client confidentiality and you could lose your business.”
Pote said there are several simple and cost-effective security methods that business owners and consumers can put in place to help reduce the risk of identity theft. These include:
- Shred all personal and financial information before placing it in the bin.
- Avoid sharing personal details or sending money online to people you don’t know or trust.
- Lock all personal documents in a safe container when not in use.
- Ignore suspicious mail and emails.
- Lock your mailbox or use a Post Office Box.
- Avoid storing personal information on mobiles and laptops.
- Check your billing and account records carefully.
- Choose strong passwords and never select the ‘remember my password’ option
- Install anti-virus software on your computer.
- Check your credit history annually to make sure there have been no major changes to your credit rating.
For more information on NIDFAW and how to protect against identity fraud, visit www.stopidfraud.com.au.
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