On 1 November 2010 the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was integrated into the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and a new website established at www.oaic.gov.au.
How can I protect myself against spam?
It is difficult to stop spam, but the following steps may be useful.
- Inform yourself about a business's information-handling practices. You should read business's' privacy policies carefully to find out how they handle your personal information. If you know why a business is collecting your information and who it is going to give it to, you can make an informed decision about dealing with that business. If you don't inform yourself, you leave yourself open to being spammed.
- Be cautious about unsubscribing. Send 'unsubscribe' reply messages only where you recognise the sender and would reasonably expect to receive messages from them. For example, it may be safe to 'unsubscribe' to a real estate mailing list you have dealt with, but not to an unwanted 'medication' message from an unknown sender.
- Are you sure you know the sender? Remember, some spammers go to a lot of trouble to try to make a spam look like it is from a legitimate source - if in any doubt, delete it!
- Be careful to whom you provide your email address. Generally, you should only share your email address with people you know or businesses you trust. Avoid posting your email address on large internet bulletin boards, or on social networking sites. Our FAQs have more information about social networking on the internet.
- Disguise your email address if you do need to publish it on the internet. Some spammers use software to trawl the internet and automatically harvest email addresses. Disguising your email address can help prevent this. For example, consider writing 'bob[at]hotmail[dot]com' instead of 'firstname.lastname@example.org'.
- Be cautious about opening messages from people you don't know. Some spam messages will automatically send a report back to the spammer when you open the message. This lets the spammer know that your address is active. If you think it is a spam message and you don't want it, delete it without reading it.
- Be careful you don't agree to receive electronic messages without realising it. Some businesses use forms with pre-checked boxes as a way of getting consent to send you direct marketing. If you do not uncheck these boxes, the business may take this as permission to send you electronic messages or give your information to third parties (such as direct marketing businesses).
- Make sure you have effective online protection. You can take practical steps to protect your computer, whether by through technology or how you interact on the internet. Advice on staying safe online is available at www.staysmartonline.gov.au. The Australian Communications and Media Authority also provides advice on how to protect yourself from spam. This is available at www.spam.acma.gov.au.
- Report spam! You can report spam to the Australian Communications and Media Authority using its "spamMATTERS" software. Once installed, spamMATTERS allows you to delete spam and report it to ACMA at the same time. While spamMATTERS is not a spam filter, reporting spam helps ACMA to identify and gather the forensic information it needs to identify spammers and take action against them. For more information, go to www.spam.acma.gov.au.