Some Australians are making themselves “easy targets” for crooks online, the Australian Federal Police says.
Social media users are posting too much personal and professional information, setting themselves up as potential victims of a range of criminals, from fraudsters to sex offenders.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough said the advice was not just for younger Australians, but for government employees, those who worked in sensitive areas, and single parents who revealed the ages of their children on dating websites.
“You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and let them know your security clearance or that you work in payroll in your organisation,” Assistant Commissioner Gough said.
“You wouldn’t give a stranger your phone number, your date of birth or provide them with a photo album of your children.
“But too many Australians are essentially doing this by posting this information online and not turning on strict privacy controls. Pause before you post. Ask yourself, ‘Do you really need to reveal your personal details?'”
Assistant Commissioner Gough said some Australians could be targeted because of their position within a company, government agency or university.
Criminals might pretend to be an employer or recruiter looking to hire, and groom a victim to understand what access or knowledge they have within an organisation.
In other cases, people are putting their financial security at risk.
“Criminals are harvesting information, stealing identities and then stealing victims’ money, or taking out credit cards in victims’ names. In some cases, criminals have been able to obtain personal information and access financial accounts,” Assistant Commissioner Gough said.
“People who are selling second-hand goods on websites and provide their mobile phone number can leave themselves vulnerable to phishing attacks. Personal information is a valued commodity for criminals, who can sell this on to others in forums on the dark web.”
Child sex offenders also sometimes look for victims by targeting single parents on dating websites.
“We are also urging all parents to think twice about posting photographs of their kids,” Assistant Commissioner Gough said.
“Some platforms do not automatically remove geolocation data from images taken on mobile phones allowing for identification of where you work, your home address or other private locations.”
Online users are advised to review location, privacy settings and parental controls and review and turn off location settings, such as GPS, when unnecessary.
Ensure privacy settings are secure, and set to ‘Friends only’ or ‘Private’, the AFP advised. Research parental controls to see if they are suitable for your family.
Visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre and ASIO’s Think Before You Link campaign for more information.