Almost one in ten Australians have fallen victim to identity theft, according to a national survey released by the Office of the Australian Privacy Commissioner (APC) which also found that the majority of people do not trust online businesses to protect their personal data.
The survey of 1500 Australians conducted by Wallis Consulting Group found that nine per cent of respondents have had their personal details stolen and used fraudulently, while 17% said they knew someone who had fallen victim.
Half (50%) of those surveyed said they were "more concerned" about providing information over the Internet than they were two years ago, while 45% believed ID theft was most likely to occur as a result of using the Internet.
Around 11% said ID theft was most likely to occur as a result of buying items online, while the same amount felt that Internet banking would expose them to ID fraud.
Furthermore, around 25% of Australians claim they provide false information in online forms as a way of protecting their identity.
Only 17% of respondents considered businesses selling over the Web to be trustworthy, although the APC says this is a "significant improvement" on 2004 figures where just nine per cent trusted online retailers. Over a third (36%) of Australians would not deal with a company or charity because of concerns over its protection or use of their personal data.
Commenting on the findings, Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis, says: "The best way to address these concerns is for people to arm themselves with knowledge of the privacy safeguards built into technologies, as well as an understanding of their rights."