Data Privacy Day a reminder to protect your personal information

2015 theme is respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust

To mark Data Privacy Day (January 28), privacy commissioners in Australia are urging people to stay safe online by taking steps to protect their personal information.

New South Wales Privacy Commissioner Doctor Elizabeth Coombs said she regularly hears concerns from the NSW community about how their personal data is handled by companies.

“Data Privacy Day is a reminder to ensure your personal information is protected online by asking questions and reading the fine print before disclosing it,” she said in a statement.

In May 2014, Coombs told Techworld Australia that inadvertent placement of personal information on the Internet sometimes occurs because there are no security or privacy protections.

“This could lead to identity theft occurring and people might be able to access your financial information. You could be liable for debts that you have not incurred,” she said.

To combat identity theft, she said people should set strong passwords with a combination of words and numbers when setting up online accounts.

This year's Data Privacy Day theme is respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.

The day commemorates the signing of Convention 108, a legally binding international treaty that deals with privacy and data protection. Convention 108 was signed by the Council of Europe on 28 January, 1981.

An Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) spokeswoman said it will be promoting the importance of data privacy today.

For example, the OAIC advised people to check the privacy policy and security of websites when they are shopping online.

“Be aware of how much personal information you are giving away in exchange for special deals. Do they really need all that information to complete the transaction?” said the spokeswoman.

The Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection Victoria provided some tips for consumers to safeguard their personal information.

  • Store documents that contain your personal details such as your passport, driving licence, pay slips, tax returns, bank statements and bills in a safe place.

  • Always use a different password and PIN for different accounts and take extra care when using public computers to access your personal information.

  • Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for unfamiliar transactions.

  • Shred or destroy personal documents you are throwing away such as bills, receipts, bank or credit card statements and other documents that show your name, address or other personal details.
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