Don't panic! No need to worry about your credit score or personal details being compromised.
You may have seen recent news reports about how Equifax in the US has been the subject of a major data breach. While finder.com.au does use Equifax as the source for our free credit score service, Equifax has confirmed that its Australian operation was not involved in the breach in any way. Your personal information is safe.
The official statement from Equifax notes that some of its systems containing some customer details were compromised during May and June 2017, but that none of its core consumer credit score databases were vulnerable. 182,000 customers in the US (plus a smaller number in the UK and Canada) may have been affected.
While Australians have nothing to worry about with this particular breach, it's important to make sure you stay protected in the event of a breach. Follow these easy steps to make sure your online life is secure.
- Don't use the same password for different online services. If you use the same password everywhere, you're massively increasing the risk of your accounts being hacked. Let's imagine you sign up at an online store and use the same password you use for Gmail. If that online store is breached and login details are stolen, the thieves can also get into your email and really mess up your life. To make it easy to have different passwords for every service, use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane.
- Don't click on links from unfamiliar emails. Cybercriminals will often send emails that look similar to official communications from banks or government organisations. These might ask you to "confirm your details", but in reality, they're just hoping to steal your logins and other personal information. Not sure if an email is legitimate? Don't click on the links. Instead, contact the relevant organisation by phone or by visiting their site (typing in the address yourself) to find out if there's really a problem.
- Make sure your phones and computers are up-to-date. Hackers take advantage of vulnerabilities to try and steal information. Keeping your phone and computers on the latest software version means that vulnerabilities which have been discovered will be removed. Yes, it can be a pain waiting for your phone to update, but that's a lot less painful than identity theft. For additional protection, consider signing up for an identity protection service.