Are Australians too relaxed about online privacy?

Are Australians too relaxed about online privacy?

Australians are increasingly concerned about privacy, yet the number of individuals who feel comfortable providing their personal and credit card details over the internet is on the rise.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual scams activity report revealed that $90 million financial losses were reported in 2013 due to scams.

Identity theft and phishing scams, which con individuals into disclosing their personal details, saw a rise of 73 percent year-on-year.

With Australians taking a relaxed approach to online sharing and a rise in online scams — is there cause for concern?

Are you sharing too much?

New findings from Roy Morgan Research show almost one-quarter (23 percent) of individuals 14 years or older are comfortable providing their personal details over the internet in the year to June 2014. This marks a four percent increase over a three-year period. An even larger proportion (34 percent) felt comfortable providing their credit card details online.

Despite these figures, two-thirds of Australians are “worried about invasion of privacy through new technology”, the research organisation stated. Within this number, different generations have various views about online privacy.

“As well as frequency of use and familiarity, age plays a big part in our attitudes to privacy. Generation X and Baby Boomers are more concerned about privacy than average, while Generation Y is the most comfortable giving credit card and personal information over the internet with only around average concern for privacy,” explained Tim Martin, Roy Morgan Research General Manger for Media.

Australian privacy laws

It’s essential to be aware of where your information goes when you plug it in online — not to mention having an appreciation of potential risks, including scams and identity theft. Protecting your transaction and savings accounts, not to mention your identity, is a must in today’s internet age.

The collection, storage, use and disclosure of individuals’ personal information is governed by the Privacy Act 1998.

Under the Privacy Act, entities are obliged not to use or disclose personal information for a purpose other than the purpose it was collected for. Notifying individuals of the collection of their personal information is also required.

Entities that must abide by the legislation’s Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) include government agencies and businesses with $3 million or more in annual turnover.

Not-for-profit organisations with annual turnover of this amount or more must also abide by the act, as well as some smaller businesses, including (but not limited to) private sector health service providers, credit reporting bodies and some employee associations.

Such entities must take reasonable steps to “implement practices, procedures and systems” that ensure compliance with the APP, explained the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Be cyber aware

From using your credit card to buy new clothes to plugging personal information into mobile apps, there are many instances when you will be offering up sensitive information.

It’s prudent to read over privacy policies — APP entities are required to have an up to date, clear privacy policy.

However, even when you download an app via Google Play or from the Apple Store, you’ll be presented with a list of permissions. This gives you an idea of what kind of information may be accessed by the app on your mobile device.

When presented with a privacy policy, the OAIC recommends individuals find out:

What kind of information will be collected (including that which is sensitive); 

  • If it will be shared with a third party 
  • How it will be stored
  • Whether it will be used and disclosed 
  • How you can access these details 
  • Ways to make a privacy complaint.

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Learn more about credit cards

How to make a credit card online

If you’re wondering about how to make a credit card online application, here are some steps to follow:

  • Test the market. Many credit card options are available online. Compare providers by fees, interest and perks to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Complete the application. Once you’ve selected a card, head to the provider’s website and complete the online credit card application form. Forms vary by providers.
  • Provide details. Most cards require you to meet age, residency, income and credit status condition, and you need to provide details like a bank account statement to prove this.
  • Review details. Ensure the information you’ve entered is correct.

How do I apply for a credit card online?

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

How to get a new credit card

To get a new credit card, generally you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don’t need to be an Australian citizen. Usually you can apply online or in person at a branch of the card issuer. You’ll typically have to supply information like:

  • Your income and living costs (e.g. rent/mortgage, loan repayments, living expenses)
  • Your employer’s contact details
  • Details of your assets and any debts you are paying off

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

What happens if I have a bad credit score?

If you have a bad credit score, you might encounter two main problems. First, the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to be rejected when you apply for a loan or any other credit product. Second, if your application is accepted, the less likely you are to qualify for the lowest interest rates.

Why should I check my credit rating?

There are two reasons you should check your credit rating: so you have a better understanding of your financial position, and so you can take action (if necessary) to improve your credit rating.

Lenders use credit ratings or credit scores to assess loan applications. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged lower interest rates and lower fees. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged higher interest rates and higher fees.

Why do different credit reporting bureaus use different scores?

The reason Equifax, Experian and Illion use different scores is because they are independent companies with their own different methodologies. As a result, a score of, say, 700 would mean different things at different credit reporting bureaus.

However, the one thing they have in common is that they divide their scores into five tiers. So if you receive a tier-two credit score from one bureau, you will probably receive a tier-two score from the others, as well.

Can I get a credit card on part-time/casual work?

Yes, as credit card providers look at your annual income amount as well as your occupation. Minimum income requirements tend to be between $30,000 – $40,000 for standard and rewards credit cards, however low income credit cards can have minimum income requirements as low as $15,000 per year.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

What's the best credit card for rewards?

There is no one-size-fits-all best rewards credit card. It's best you research what type of rewards program you'd like, as well as the fees, interest rate and conditions associated with those types of cards before making a choice. 

Rewards credit cards can also come with high annual fees that may end up nullifying the rewards, so think how often you use the card to decide whether the benefits outweigh the extra cost for you. A card with a lower annual fee might require a lot of spending to get any useful rewards, while another card with a higher annual fee might need fewer purchases to get a reward. 

How many numbers are on a credit card?

The numbers on your credit card actually follow a universal standard which is used to identify specific functions. Each credit card has a different amount of numbers. Visa and Mastercard have 16, American Express has 15 and Diner’s Club has 14. 

The first number on a credit card always identifies what type of credit card it is. Visa cards start with a 4, whereas Mastercard starts with a 5 and American Express with a 3. The remainder of the digits represent the account number, including the last number which is used to verify that your credit card is actually valid. 

Credit cards also have additional verification numbers, which are mainly used when the card isn’t present for phone and online purchases. These are the three-digit numbers on the back of Visa and MasterCard or the four-digit numbers on the front of an American Express card.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.