Optus data breach: how to protect yourself from credit fraud | Optus

As Optus announced on Monday, the telecommunications company has hired Deloitte to conduct an independent external review of the company’s massive data breach. Customers are still grappling with how best to protect themselves from identity fraud.

The company announced last week that it would offer a 12-month subscription to Equifax Protect credit monitoring to all affected customers who can expect to receive direct communications from Optus “in the coming days” on how to complete their 12-month – Subscription can begin.

An Optus spokesman told Guardian Australia that “current and former customers who have been disclosed their ID number(s) as well as other personal information such as name, phone number, date of birth and email address will be given the option to register a free 12-month subscription to Equifax Protect.

“Equifax Protect is a credit monitoring and identity protection service that can help reduce the risk of identity theft. Equifax is taking all measures to cope with the volume and support of Optus customers within a tight timeframe,” said a spokesman.

However, many customers have not received any correspondence from the telecommunications company for more than a week after the offer was made.

Yo @Optus – I have not received any information on changing my license or subscribing to Equifax Protect (received an email that my data was compromised on 9/23). When will this information be sent to customers? Time (and identities) are precious! #OptusHack #optusbreach

— Mitch Doyle (@yabasicmitch) September 29, 2022

Others pointed out that the credit monitoring firm itself was the victim of a data breach back in 2017.

What can I do to initiate credit monitoring?

Ryan O’Kell, head of cybersecurity for Waterston’s advisory services, said Optus customers can contact the three main credit bureaus — Equifax, illion and Experian — directly to request a free copy of their consumer credit report every 90 days.

The Australian Information Commissioner’s Office has advised people concerned about identity fraud to direct inquiries to all three credit bureaus.

The difference between the free reporting services and the Equifax Protect subscription that Optus offers is the level of protection. The latter includes dark web monitoring and identity theft insurance for up to $15,000 per year, in addition to monthly credit reports.

O’Kell said a number of banks have been told what data was stolen from Optus, so they’re keeping an eye on those customers too.

Taylor Blackburn, a personal finance expert at Finder, said people can also check their credit scores for free on Finder or ClearScore.

“You can check your score, it’ll give you an update anytime anything changes,” Blackburn said. “You can look at your credit report [and] You can view checking accounts, loan requests, current loan providers, defaults, credit breaches, bankruptcy proceedings, court cases, commercial credit requests.”

She said there are a number of free websites that offer real-time monitoring, so customers don’t necessarily need to request a formal credit report every three months.

What is a credit ban?

Scott Pape, better known as Barefoot Investor, said he believes Optus customers should consider imposing a lending ban to protect themselves.

A credit hold prevents lenders from accessing your credit report for a credit check, preventing someone else from fraudulently borrowing on your behalf.

In an article for the Herald Sun, Pape likened credit monitoring to a surveillance camera and a credit freeze to having “a big ass lock on your door that makes it impossible for the robber to get into your home.”

Pape’s suggestion for implementing the ban was to use the app of a division of the Commonwealth Bank, Credit Savvy.

He said Optus customers simply had to download the app, review details, click “Protect” in the bottom navigation, and finally click “Request Ban.”

You can also apply for a credit ban from the three main credit monitoring agencies listed above. The ban lasts 21 days, but you can request that the ban be extended. Renewal is free and there is no limit to how many times a blackout period can be extended.

Blackburn said he believes Optus customers should consider the credit ban “particularly if they see signs of identity theft.”

Blackburn said customers should contact the affected organization at the first sign of unusual activity and request a ban on their consumer credit information.

“That lock-up period marks you and your identity so if there are credit checks against you – let’s say someone goes to Vodafone and wants a new phone, they use your identity – which will happen when that credit check is complete. are flagged as potentially fraudulent,” Blackburn said.

“And the organization probably won’t actually give you that recognition, they’re more likely to report it to the police.”

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