As the Perth Nigerian house scam demonstrates the best defence against identity is constant vigilance. But it seems Australians aren’t getting the message.

In a recent Newspoll survey an alarming 75% of Australians regularly throw away highly sensitive information without shredding or disposing of them safely. These include utility bills, bank statements, expired credit cards and application forms.

According to the survey, 85% of Australians are concerned about identity fraud but continually put themselves at enormous risk.

It’s no wonder that 43% of all respondents surveyed believe it is likely they will become the victim of identity theft!

The findings coincide with the launch of National Identity Fraud Awareness Week (NIDFAW) which runs until Friday 15th October and aims to raise awareness of identity fraud. This year, leaders behind the initiative, Crimestoppers and Fellowes Australia are encouraging consumers to implement simple security measures to dramatically decrease the number of people who are affected each year.

NIDFAW spokesperson and Fellowes Australia Marketing Manager Peter Campbell, said that whilst identity fraud is growing, many consumers and businesses aren’t aware of the precautions that need to be taken.

“Households are simply not aware how much and how sensitive this information is that they are currently disposing of recklessly. 83% of Australians believe that the level of identity theft has increased over the last 5 years, so we are urging the public to be more vigilant about destroying personal documents prior to throwing them in the bin,” Mr. Campbell said.

“Consumers and business continue to leave highly confidential documents in easily accessible and unsecure places, such as rubbish or disposal bins and letterboxes. These documents that contain information such as bank/credit card details, addresses and tax file numbers provide fraudsters with a wealth of information. Potentially, all it could take is a combination of a few carelessly discarded pieces of information such as name, date of birth and bank account details for the fraudsters to have the information they need to attempt to commit identity fraud.

“Consumers need to take a more proactive approach towards tackling this problem. Implementing simple document security measures, like locking their letterbox or using a PO Box and shredding sensitive documents before they leave the house or office, can dramatically decrease risk and minimise potentially devastating losses,” Mr. Campbell said.

About the Author

Peter Fletcher

Peter began his real estate career in 1985 selling tin shacks and red dirt in Kalgoorlie. Moving to Perth in 1989 he quickly moved into agency ownership. By 2006, Peter had built a thriving agency managing over 600 rental properties. He then sold the business, taking time out of the industry to complete Honours in a Bachelor of Arts. Peter is now the Managing Director of Residential Settlements in Burswood and an active Army reservist. Peter has had just one hot shower since the 10th of May 2008.