Article by Jamie Mackenzie Smith - 14th June 2018

What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Data Breach

Another day, another high-profile data breach, with the morning news bringing word of another leak of personal information that affects millions of consumers. This time it’s the turn of Dixons Carphone - the company behind PC World, Currys and Carphone Warehouse.

Full details of the breach are still emerging, but initial reports claim that some 5.9m credit card numbers and 1.2m records containing ‘non-financial personal data’ have been accessed.

Consumer awareness of the importance of keeping personal information safe and reducing the risk of falling victim to fraud is fairly good these days, but there’s only so much you can personally do when hackers target an entire business. No matter how careful you are, there’s always a slim possibility that your information can be accessed this way.

That said, fraudsters are unlikely to be able to do much damage with the limited personal data obtained in a hack alone. It’s when they supplement it with other personal information harvested elsewhere that the risks of falling victim to fraud increases. So, what steps should you take to ensure that you don’t end up paying for a business’ security flaws?

Be careful about what information you give out

You don’t need to go as far as sharing your passwords or card details publicly to risk falling foul of Identity Fraud. In some cases, particularly dedicated fraudsters only need basic information to go on before they can find more in-depth details.

Keeping the amount of information that you share publicly to a minimum is vital. If you must share things like your home address on social networks, ensure that you utilise privacy settings so that only trusted people can see the information. Don’t use one password for all sites, and implement two-step verification where appropriate.

Think twice about which companies you share contact details such as your postal or email address, or phone number with. Unless they are part of a transaction, there’s little reason to share them as in the wrong hands, this could expose you to further phishing scams in the future.

Check your credit report

Your Credit Report is invaluable when it comes to protecting your finances following a data breach: if anyone is using your information maliciously to try and take out credit in your name, you’ll be able to see these attempts on your report.

Search footprints on your file will clue you into whether any lenders have recently accessed your file to check your credit history. When you check your Credit Report yourself, you’ll be able to see any credit checks that have been carried out on your file in the last 12 months – hopefully you should recognise all of them, but if you see an Application Search that you do not recognise, this could be a sign that someone has attempted to take out credit in your name.

Similarly, any credit accounts that you do not recognise on your Credit Report could be a sign of credit fraud. If you have any doubts about any of the entries on your report, contact the lender specified immediately and ask for further details. Many lenders and finance companies have specialised fraud departments who will be able to help you if you have been a victim.

If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile free for 30 days, and then for just £14.99 a month afterwards, which you can cancel online at any time. You’ll get complete access to the UK’s most detailed Credit Report, with data from 4 Credit Reference Agencies, not just 1. It includes expert assistance should you fall victim while you are a subscriber.

Take out Protective Registration

If you have been a victim of fraud or you feel that you are more vulnerable to fraud following a breach, you can add an extra layer of security to your Credit Report by taking out Protective Registration. Protective Registration is offered by Cifas: the UK’s fraud prevention service and it ensures additional checks are carried out to verify that the person taking out credit is who they say they are.

Alternatively, you can add a Notice of Correction to your Credit Report, informing the potential lender that they need to carry out additional checks or to be wary of attempted fraudulent activity. Some people try to use a Notice of Correction as a way of providing an ‘excuse’ for past late payments and whilst it is unlikely to alter a lending decision, it can work well as a means of preventing an application proceeding automatically.

Whichever route you take, the presence of either on your report will be enough to prevent automated forms of credit from being taken out in your name. The same will apply to you in some situations – because Protective Registration and Notices of Correction require human input, you are likely to be turned down for forms of finance that automate the application process. While it may seem inconvenient at the time, it’s a small price to pay if it means no one else can take out credit in your name.

Beware additional attempts

Fraudsters are often happy to play the long game, and so it’s important to stay vigilant beyond just a few weeks. Lenders typically update the information they share with Credit Reference Agencies once a month, and so whilst the data can seem out of date, monitoring your report closely will mean that you spot any fraudulent activity at the earliest opportunity.

It’s worth checking with the Royal Mail to see if any redirections have been set up for your address as well – these can be used by fraudsters to intercept mail going to your address, meaning that if your name and address has been used you could be none-the-wiser unless you regularly check your Credit Report.

To find out how likely you are to be a victim of fraud, try our free Identity Fraud Check or to see if there is any new activity on your Credit Report that you don’t recognise, you can try checkmyfile free for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month afterwards which you can cancel online at any time.

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