Australian Federal Police Issue Warning to Online Shoppers Over the Christmas Shopping Period
(News4us.com) December 6, 2010
Shopping online, especially for products from the United States, has never been more attractive in the lead up to Christmas as consumers seek out bargains due to the strong Australian dollar.
The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are reminding consumers that online safety should never take a holiday while Internet shopping during the festive season.
Consumers are being encouraged to take some basic safety precautions and protect their personal information when shopping online.
The ABA and AFP have produced a fact sheet (see attached) which lists simple tips to help online shoppers reduce the risk of fraud and to protect themselves from unwanted interference.
With almost half of Australia’s population being active Internet users, a practical idea for a Christmas gift might be anti-virus software for the household computer.
Cyber criminals and Internet fraudsters don’t take holidays and neither should Internet shoppers’ vigilance when it comes to online safety.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan, National Manager of the AFP’s High Tech Crime Operations said, “All Internet users should be aware that the use of Internet technology can allow virtual strangers to obtain large amounts of personal information relating to a wide range of personal activities.”
“Common sense is the key when it comes to shopping online. As a rule, it is recommended you apply a standard ‘physical world’ test to any online shopping. Particularly at this time of the year when people are looking for a bargain, if an offer looks too good to be true, it may be a hoax or scam.”
Steven Münchenberg, Chief Executive of the ABA, said: “Banks will be playing their part to protect cardholders by monitoring and protecting accounts if they identify any suspicious transactions.”
“But before proceeding to the online cash register, it’s important that you do some research on the merchant, so that you can be confident that you are transacting with a business that you can trust and a business that will protect your personal information, including your credit or debit card details.”
“Sometimes businesses request large amounts of information they don’t need, so think about limiting the amount of information before providing. Never send your credit card number by email. Emails are not secure.”
The online shopper should remain vigilant and ensure that they:
- maintain and update anti-virus software that is obtained from a reputable source;
- install operating system patches to ensure any security vulnerabilities are mitigated;
- check statements regularly and immediately report any suspicious transactions to the bank;
- use strong passwords to protect personal information;
- limit the amount of personal information you place on the Internet;
- do not provide financial or other personal information to people that you do not know and trust; and
- never click on links contained within spam or unexpected emails.
More information in relation to methods online consumers (personal and business) can undertake to protect their personal information can be obtained from www.protectfinancialid.org.au which is a website provided by the ABA, AFP and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Please see here for the Online Shopping Fact Sheet (PDF, 335KB).
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