Article by Sam Griffin - 9th November 2020

Affected By The WisePay Data Breach: What Next

In early October, WisePay informed the ICO that hackers had successfully stolen users’ personal details, including sensitive information relating to card payments.

WisePay offers a digital service that allows parents to pay for their children’s school meals, exams, and clubs online. This data breach is believed to have affected parents at over 300 schools, and the criminal is yet to be identified.

Data breaches have unfortunately become a worry of the modern world, and this latest breach reminds us that even something as routine as paying for your child’s school lunch can leave you vulnerable to identity fraud.

How did the data breach happen?

The majority of UK data breaches, according to InfoTech, are caused by human error and 90% of malware (viruses that steal personal details) are contracted from infected emails.

In this case, WisePay’s breach was caused by a hacker exploiting a weakness in the system’s database. The hacker redirected paying parents to a counterfeit page, which masqueraded as WisePay’s checkout page. Users then proceeded to enter personal details, including card info, thinking they were paying for their children’s school meals – instead, the details were being collected by the hacker.

WisePay disabled its website after detecting ‘URL manipulation’ but, by then, over 300 schools’ worth of parents had their private information stolen. To reassure users Richard Grazier, the managing director of WisePay, said that only ‘a small subset of users’ was affected.

As required by UK GDPR, WisePay informed the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of the data breach. The ICO is currently investigating the matter to determine whether WisePay’s existing data protection efforts were sufficient. If not, WisePay may be fined and affected individuals may be able to claim compensation for the loss of their data.

WisePay claims that their service is currently secure and safe for parents and guardians to use once again.

The recent rise in Identity Theft

Data breaches of this nature can be disastrous at the best of times, but with the challenges imposed by the pandemic, the frequency and severity of identity fraud attempts have been getting worse. Difficult times – both from financial and health perspectives – leave people more vulnerable than usual, and criminals can look to exploit the situation.

Whether it’s by breaching an organisation’s data protection or by coaxing sensitive information directly from the individual, reported cases of identity theft have risen during the coronavirus pandemic.

TransUnion found that nearly 23% of surveyed Brits had been targeted by fraudsters between March and May this year, with a collective cost at £3.6 billion. On average, that’s about £556 for each victim.

Experian has measured that the nationwide fraud rate increased 33% during the first Covid lockdown earlier this year. The cause appears to be ‘criminals looking to take advantage of the disruption to both businesses and their customers’. The stats show that companies may be increasingly vulnerable to data breaches, as their resources are stretched and redirected, just as individual consumers are more vulnerable to phishing scams.

Mondo Visione has identified that small and medium sized businesses in the UK are at risk of 65,000 cyber-attacks daily, and it’s expected that the number has risen even higher due to Covid’s impact.

We’ve covered off some of the best steps you can take to protect yourself against fraudsters in this article, but one of the most critical tools at your disposal is your Credit Reportand you can check it quickly and easily online.

Check your Credit Report

Any credit applications submitted in your details will be recorded on your Credit Report, detailing your name, address, lender applied with, and date the application was submitted. Monitoring this information will let you spot any suspicious activity and take action faster.

Not only can you see recent applications, but any opened accounts that have been shared with the Credit Reference Agencies will also appear on your Credit Report, showing the amount owed, date the account was opened, and more.

If you spot a newly opened account that you don’t recognise, you can take action by contacting the lender directly. They’ll then be able to start an investigation into the account: if it is fraudulent, it can be shut down and wiped from your Credit Report.

In short, your Credit Report is a goldmine of information that can be monitored to protect your identity and finances.

How do I check my Credit Report?

You can view your Multi Agency Credit Report with checkmyfile free for 30 days, then just £14.99 per month. It’s the UK’s most detailed Credit Report, gathering your complete information from all four Credit Reference Agencies – Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Crediva – letting you easily see everything you need in one place.

The UK's First Provider Of Online Credit Reports

Launched 25 Years, 35 Million Credit Scores & 8 Million Credit Reports Ago

The UK's First Provider Of Online Credit Reports

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