In the wake of one of Australia’s biggest cyber security threats, Australia’s second biggest telco has taken a further step to help reduce the risk of identity theft.
Optus is offering the most affected current and former customers whose information was compromised because of a cyberattack, the option to take up a 12-month subscription to a credit monitoring and identity protection service that can help reduce the risk of identity theft.
Why we should all check our credit history.
If you’re an Optus customer, checking your credit history would appear a sensible move. However, this major cyber hack also shines a light on all of us about the value of monitoring our credit history.
Checking your credit history and scores can help you better understand your current credit position. Regularly checking your credit reports can help you be more aware of what lenders may see. Credit reports can also help you detect inaccurate or incomplete information.
Also, if a big company like Optus gets hacked, the hackers can sell your information to scammers who can use your stolen full name, address, date of birth, driver’s licence and passport number to apply for loans, mobile phone accounts and more.
One way to stop identity thieves from using your data to apply for mortgages, personal loans, or more is to check your credit history held by agencies such as Equifax, illion and Experian. Your credit score is based on personal and financial information in your credit report. Helpfully, you can access your score and report for free.
If you’re anxious about being compromised by the Optus hack or any other possible scams, you can access your report online within a day or two. Or you could have to wait up to 10 days to get your report by email or mail.
Request a ban on your credit report if you suspect fraud.
Under consumer credit laws, if you’re a possible victim of fraud (including identity fraud), you may request a credit reporting body not to use or disclose information in your consumer credit report.
The Office of the Australian Information Commission1 recommends that you reach out to Equifax, illion and Experian just in case they have a consumer credit report on you. The credit reporting agencies will then ban your consumer credit report for 21 days after your first request unless there’s an extension to enable further investigation.
During the ban, a credit reporting body can’t use or disclose your consumer credit report (or the information in the credit report). Some exceptions include that you provide consent in writing to use or disclose the information, or the credit agencies are directed to release the information by a court or tribunal order.
Now, suppose a credit provider asks a credit reporting body for a copy of your consumer credit report during the ban period. In that case, the credit reporting body will tell them about the ban, which alerts the credit provider to a possible scam.
While a ban is in place, it may be more complicated for you to apply for a credit card or home loan. For example, a credit card provider may need to collect more personal information directly from you. This might seem like an inconvenience, but if a scammer has got hold of your information, the ban will be worth the wait.
For information check out IDCare’s Fact Sheet on Credit Bans Australia.
Play it safe.
For more information about the Optus breach, members can access resources at Scamwatch. Other valuable online resources outlining ways to combat scams and protect your personal information and finances include the Australian Security Centre, MoneySmart and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, which outline additional steps customer can take to limit the risk of fraud.
Educate yourself on staying safe online by reading our series of blog articles about scams, fraud and security.
If you have any questions or concerns about any suspicious activity on your account, please call us on 1800 033 139.
Important note: This information is of a general nature and is not intended to be relied on by you as advice in any particular matter. You should contact us at Defence Bank to discuss how this information may apply to your circumstances.