Barely a month goes by without the headlines featuring the tale of a high-level data breach.
The latest incident has centred on British Airways, which has been the subject of a “sophisticated and malicious” security hack which has compromised the details of as many as 400,000 customers.
However, it’s not just these big hacks that we need to be worried about. A report earlier this year from Top10VPN.com on the dark web found that would-be hackers can get their hands on the tools they need to begin committing identity fraud for less than the cost of a pint of beer.
Identity fraud can be a big earner for these crooks, as with the right details they may be able to open financial products in your name, without you knowing, pocketing the cash and then disappearing.
So if you think your details may have been obtained by the fraudsters, what should you do? How can you protect yourself?
Speak to your bank
If you think your banking details may have been compromised from a data breach, then it’s a really good idea to speak to your bank to bring them up to date on the situation.
They can then be extra vigilant in monitoring what’s going on with your account and can step in if need be, should something potentially suspicious pop up.
Time to review your passwords
One of the first things you’ll need to do is review your passwords.
For example, any passwords you used with the firm that has suffered the data breach will need to change. You can’t just stop there though - many of us use the same password across multiple accounts, so they will all need to be changed too.
Be on your guard against suspicious calls and emails
Scammers are well known for trying to follow up high profile data breaches with calls or emails to try to get hold of your details, using the breach as a hook to try to get you to share some of your personal details. They can then try to use these details to commit identity fraud.
So be particularly wary about any calls or emails you receive out of the blue discussing how secure your various accounts are. Don’t ever click on the links in these emails - they will either leave a host of malware on your computer, or take you through to a webpage which has been designed to look legitimate, but which is really just another attempt to get you to share your details.
Monitor your credit report
It’s definitely a good idea to keep an eye on your credit report after any data breach, as you’ll quickly see if any suspicious applications for credit have taken place.
There are a host of different sites that allow you to monitor your report, including Experian, Noddle and ClearScore.
Be sure to monitor your report for a little while, and ensure that any applications are entirely legitimate. If you see anything that looks out of place, be sure to follow it up and check where it has come from. Cutting an attempted scam off at the outset is a lot more straightforward than months down the line, once the fraudster has got the money.
If you think you have been the victim of a scam or attempted scam, then it’s really important that you report it to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is backed by the City of London Police - all scam reports it receives are passed onto the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau which helps to identify serial offenders, organised crime gangs and emerging forms of crime.
You can report the scam online through the or over the phone.
Don’t get pushed into committing fraud
Frauds come in many different forms, and while being caught up in a data breach like that which hit British Airways, there are also schemes which rely on you being duped into committing fraud.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau says it is seeing an increase in the number of investigations into fraud it carried out, and warned that homeowners should be wary of seemingly legitimate tradespeople or others connected to the claims process who may attempt to coerce you into submitting false or exaggerated claims.
Jason Potter, IFB’s Head of Investigations, explained: “These scams are varied and can range from a small claim exaggerated into a revamp of the whole kitchen, to scams involving whole neighbourhoods for defective cavity wall insulation. These scams often see victims targeted by an enabler, who will make a good case for exaggerating your claim, but the dishonesty in claiming for false repair work could ultimately land you, the policyholder, in jail.”