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30 September 2011

"It's estimated about 133,000 New Zealanders a year could be victims of identity fraud[1]. With increased use of digital technology, it's easier for criminals to steal your information," said Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff.

"Older people use the internet more and more to communicate with friends and family, for banking and buying goods. They're putting a lot of personal information out there. Like everyone else in the community, older people are vulnerable to scammers and hackers and need to be careful with their personal information," said Ms Shroff.

With the assistance of Neighbourhood Support, the Privacy Commissioner's office has produced advice cards on topics ranging from keeping safe online to protecting your financial information.

"We got together a group of seniors to tell us about key problems facing their age group when it comes to controlling their personal information, with the help of the Office for Senior Citizens. The group highlighted situations such as being made to divulge their bank PIN number to someone, often a relative, and then having money taken from them. The loss of power over their own affairs was a strong theme," said Ms Shroff.

Dame Cath Tizard, former Governor General and Auckland Mayor and one of our most famous and switched on senior citizens, launched the material. "I love being online, and admit to taking the occasional risk. But I am taking more and more care these days as I get more scamming emails and "too good to be true" offers. I encourage everyone to get hold of this great advice about taking care with your information both on and offline," said Dame Cath.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who hosted the launch, said, "Our digital strategy for Wellington includes making the capital a world leader in digital activity and access to technology available to all Wellingtonians. To make the most of this people need to feel confident and safe online. We are really pleased to see this new privacy material aimed at older people and their neighbourhoods."

Natalie Lavery of the Office for Senior Citizens said, "We'd like to see people have the confidence to say no if they are concerned about handing over their information or agreeing to let someone else have access to their personal details. We hope that the information will spark discussions between older people and their support networks about keeping their information safe and retaining control over their affairs."


Note to editors

International Day of the Older Person, 1 October 2011
The launch of this new privacy material coincides with International Day of the Older Person on 1 October 2011. This provides an excellent opportunity to feature some local stories about seniors and the issues they face keeping control of their personal information.

Seniors' stories
Attached are some generalised stories based on real-life situations faced by seniors, which have been told to us. No real names have been used.

Attached are e-copies of the information cards. These are under embargo until 3.30pm, 30 September 2011

After the launch date, the new material can be seen at: www.privacy.org.nz

Other resources
Test yourself - how aware are you about your risks online?

For more information:
http://privacy.org.nz/media-release-privacy-commissioners-provide-new-help-against-identity-theft/?highlight=ID theft tool

The Privacy Commissioner would like to thank the following organisations for their support with this project:

  • Neighbourhood Support
  • Office for Senior Citizens
  • Office of the Mayor, Wellington

For further information contact Cathy Henry on 021 509 735.

[1] http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Resource-material-Evidence-of-Identity-Standard-Questions-and-Answers?OpenDocument