Your personal information (your name, email address, phone number, Bank Verification Number (BVN) etc) may seem like regular details about your daily life. To hackers and those involved in digital theft, it is pure gold worth stealing.
The effects brought on by a data breach can come in the form of damage to the target company’s reputation due to a perceived ‘betrayal of trust.’ Victims and their customers may suffer financial losses which could potentially impact their credit history should related records be part of the information stolen.
What is a data breach?
A data breach is any incident that exposes confidential/personal information to unauthorized parties and such a breach can be accidental or intentional. A hacker may illegally access the database of a company/website where personal information is shared, or accidentally exposed to hackers by signing up to malicious software or spurious sites. Either way, criminals may access key personal details and profit from them at the expense of the data owner.
Companies that store data inclusive of demographic or firmographic information, such as businesses, health care organizations and financial institutions, are at greater risk of data breaches. Legally, companies are obligated to tell their customers if they have been the victim of a security breach where data is involved.
If you know or suspect that your information has been leaked as part of a data breach, there are steps that can be taken immediately to lessen the impact of the breach, one of these include protecting your identity by running a privacy scan.
For instance, it is imperative not to respond or click links in spam or unsolicited emails. It is also important to periodically review your credit report and immediately contact your lender or credit grantor upon seeing uninitiated newly recorded account(s). These are signs that it's time to take further action to protect yourself. These actions range from utilizing online tools such as privacy scanners and / or credit monitoring services.
Running a privacy scan
These are online tools, also known as privacy scanners that can search hundreds of digital records in minutes, helping the data owner identify the destination point of intercepted information. Privacy Scanners safely removes footprints of your personal identity such as browsing history, username and passwords, user profiles, temporary files, and even your recycle bin. Other ways to protect your Identity include:
Set up a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report.
Adding a fraud alert or credit freeze to your credit report can make it much more difficult for criminals to open credit accounts in your name. A fraud alert asks lenders to verify your identity before opening an account in your name. If you'd prefer more extreme action, you can freeze your credit so lenders cannot access your credit reports and therefore cannot open new lines of credit in your name. Different from a fraud alert, a credit freeze may be processed with each credit bureau separately.
Avoid saving personal information with online merchants.
Try to avoid saving information like bank card number or BVN in autofill forms or online profiles. Yes, saving these details provides ease of processing of these forms, however it remains safer not to save these details online. In the event of a data breach that information is compromised and may lead to financial losses if obtained illegally.
Avoid using the same passwords on all your accounts.
It is a global best practice to adopt several passwords for different sites. These passwords may be alphanumeric in nature with no existing relationship to the password holder e.g. name, date of birth, place of birth etc. A secure password manager app may be used to store these passwords in a random manner. It is advisable to avoid writing passwords down in a document or even on a hard copy in your home to avoid unauthorized access.
Take advantage of CRC Monitors and Alerts.
With CRC Monitors and Alerts, individuals and corporate entities are provided a useful tool to constantly monitor immediate changes in the status of their credit profiles through email notification alerts.
It keeps a daily watch on your credit report for any changes that may be linked to fraudulent activity or changes in the credit profile. It works by sending alerts when there is any activity or change in your credit profile, making it easy to stay on top of personal and financial information.
Keeping track of the changes in your credit profile can enable consumers and businesses the opportunity to repair any issues that might be a factor when applying for new credit.
To set up monitors and alerts on your credit profile, kindly download the CRC Mobile app for all android and iOS devices or visit: https://crccreditbureau.com/product/monitors-and-alerts-individual
- How privacy scanning can keep your company out of the regulatory minefield (2007) https://iapp.org/news/a/how-privacy-scanning-can-keep-your-company-out-of-the-regulatory-minefield/
- How Data breaches happen https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/data-breach