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Source: Australian Attorney General’s Agencies

As we head into the holiday shopping season, consumers are being reminded to safeguard personal information when making purchases online.

Australians are forecast to spend a record $4 billion online in the lead up to Christmas, sharing personal data including address and credit card details. Breaches of this personal data can have serious consequences, such as identity theft and financial fraud.

If you plan on shopping online these holidays, follow these tips from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to protect your data online:

  • Value your personal information – Your personal information is valuable and should be protected. Instead of signing up for a loyalty program or creating an online account, consider using a “guest” profile to complete your purchase. You can also leave data fields blank to limit the amount of personal information a site collects and stores.
  • Check who you are buying from – Play it safe by shopping from reputable brands and cross-checking information. Before making a purchase, read credible reviews from other customers and check for information on warranties, refunds and complaints handling. If it looks suspicious, don’t risk it.
  • Be smart about connected devices – While smart devices can be convenient, they can also collect and share your personal information. Before you buy, research the product’s security and privacy credentials. Reading the privacy policy will help you understand how a device operates and whether you are comfortable with its data practices. Look for trusted reviews or guides like eSafety’s Gift Guide to help you decide which device is right for you. If you do buy a smart device, use a strong password, turn on automatic software updates, and adjust settings to reduce the amount of personal information collected.
  • Remember the online security basics – Malicious and criminal attacks are the leading cause of data breaches involving personal information. You can protect yourself from common cyber incidents by thinking before you click on links in emails and text messages,  using strong and unique passwords or passphrases, and only shopping with secure websites – look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol.

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