You can take direct action to help protect yourself by applying the PROTECT strategy
This strategy looks at little things you can implement into your everyday life that can help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft.
You can help to reduce the risk of postal fraud by installing a secure mailbox at a Post Shop near you. You should also arrange for mail to be held at the post office whenever you go away. When you move house, arrange for your mail to be forwarded to your new address and notify any institutions you receive mail from, such as banks and insurance companies as soon as possible about your change of address details. After you've read important documents and no longer need them, shred them before throwing them out.
Keep an eye on your spending by reviewing your bank statements and be sure to investigate any uncharacteristic account activities or out of line transactions. ATM transactions have the name of the location printed on them, this information can assist you to identity any fraudulent transactions if your bank cards have been lost or stolen. Even small payments to unknown companies or people can be suspect and always look out for transactions that are in round amounts, such as $250.00, $3,000.00. Transactions that are in round amounts can indicate fraudulent activity. It is also important to keep all of your payment slips to reconcile them back to your bank statement if you pay by bank card.
Avoid using passwords that are obvious such as your car registration number or your child's name and always ensure that your passwords and personal identification information such as birth dates, full name, mother's maiden name and phone numbers are not visible when using an open online environment such as in the office, a coffee shop, internet cafe, public transport or on an airplane etc. If you use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, select the 'private' option so that strangers can't peer into your life.
Stay up to date with any changes to your credit file. One of the easiest ways to cover yourself against fraud such as credit applications made in your name by a criminal is to register for My Credit Alert, which notifies you of any changes to your credit file.
File your paperwork in a secure place or shred any paperwork which has your personal information or account details printed on them, including your bank and credit card statements, phone and energy bills. Leaving these lying on a desk at work or around the house unattended may result in fraudulent activity on your accounts.
Always use secure transactions when paying for purchases or transferring money online. Ensure you Install security software and keep it up to date to cover yourself against hackers, scams and viruses, and never open any attachments from an unreliable source, or unusual files from people you do not know. If in doubt delete the e-mail in your inbox and in your delete box immediately. Phishing is on the increase and criminals use this method to entice you to click on a website address link in an e-mail message and ask you to update sensitive information by capturing your personal information such as your PIN, full name and bank account details. The website address looks and feels like a legitimate address but all the information that you have captured is intercepted by criminals who use it for their own benefit to have access to your accounts and maybe to have access to credit in your name.
Immediately inform your credit providers if you notice any suspicious activity in your financial accounts. The faster you act, the better the chance of a speedy recovery. Most credit providers work extended hours so you have the opportunity to contact them after normal working/business hours. Advise your credit providers as soon as you have changed your address. This is important because if you don’t advise them early the letter will be returned as a CNCA (Credit Non-Compliance Action) and any accounts due by you may not be paid on time and become a default. This may affect your ability to obtain credit and your Equifax Score Rating.