Australians have every right to be concerned about data breaches and loss of personal details, as personal information has become a valuable commodity used to commit identity fraud and potentially ruin the victim’s financial future, a national credit repairer says.
Director of MyCRA Credit Repairs, Graham Doessel says a recent survey revealing concerns about data breaches shows we are all worried about where our personal information could be put at risk, and this is not without reason.
“More and more of my clients have been through the ringer attempting to have black marks removed from their credit file due to identity theft, simply because our education, our legislation and our technology is unable to keep up with fraudsters. People want to know their details are going to be safe when they shop, when they use the internet and with the companies that have their details in their computer systems,” Mr Doessel says.
This comes as a global survey reveals widespread concern over the security of personal information. A survey conducted online by Harris for US-based identity management specialist SailPoint, showed the majority of adults in the United States, Great Britain and Australia are worried about possible exposure of their personal information, and a large percentage of adults have lost confidence in how companies protect their personal information.
“The widespread impact of data breaches like Epsilon and Sony PlayStation, where millions of consumers were impacted around the world, is making customers more cautious about conducting business with certain financial institutions and retailers,” said Jackie Gilbert, vice president of marketing and co-founder at SailPoint.
Mr Doessel says personal information is like gold to identity thieves.
“Basically, a lot of identity fraud is committed by piecing together enough personal information from different sources in order for criminals to take out credit in the victim’s name. Often victims don’t know about it right away – and that’s where their credit file can be compromised,” he says.
He says once the victim’s credit rating is damaged due to defaults from this ‘stolen’ credit, they are facing some difficult times repairing their credit rating in order to get their life back on track.
“These victims often can’t even get a mobile phone in their name. It need not be large-scale fraud to be a massive blow to their financial future – defaults for as little as $100 will stop someone from getting a home loan,” he says.
Once an unpaid account goes to default stage, the account may be listed by the creditor as a default on a person’s credit file. Under current legislation, defaults remain on the credit file for a 5 year period.
“What is not widely known is how difficult credit repair following can be – even if the individual has been the victim of identity theft, there is no guarantee the defaults can be removed from their credit file. The onus is on them to prove their case and provide copious amounts of documentary evidence” he says.
Mr Doessel says the best defence an individual can take against identity theft is to get educated on how their personal information can be put at risk.
But he also says in the case of data breaches, it comes down to a need to know basis.
“At best we can minimise the amount of people who hold our personal information. People should always question the need for it to be handed over. If it is not essential, don’t do it.”
“Unfortunately it seems everywhere we turn some company has been hacked – and it seems every entity with a computer is vulnerable. It is still extremely scary the level of risk our personal information undergoes these days when it is stored online,” he says.
He says it is important for people to keep up to date with what is on their credit file, to be alerted to any entries which point to a theft of identity.
Under current legislation a credit file report can be obtained for free every 12 months from the major credit reporting agencies Veda Advantage, Dun and Bradstreet , Tasmanian Collection Service and Experian and is sent to the owner of the credit file within 10 working days.
For those who are vulnerable to identity theft, they can pay extra with credit reporting agency, Veda Advantage to have their file on an ‘alert’ system, which tracks any changes to their credit file that may occur within a 12 month period.
Mr Doessel says people who suspect identity theft should report the matter immediately to Police, no matter how insignificant they think the fraud is.
“This crime is not very widely reported. But it is only through people reporting identity theft that any real statistics get collated on this issue. Likewise, if people want to try and repair their credit rating, the first thing I tell them is to make sure they have a Police report,” he says.
Please contact: Lisa Brewster – Media Relations Mob: 0450 554 007 firstname.lastname@example.org
Graham Doessel – Director Ph 07 3124 7133
246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld
MyCRA Credit Repairs is Australia’s leader in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.