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How to protect your data after the Experian breach

(Image credit: Pixabay)

The Experian South Africa data breach has left many concerned about their personal data. Many of the country's major banks are advising users to take extra precautions, despite the breach reportedly being under control. 

Personal data protection is one thing but it's very hard to protect your data once it's been leaked from another source. In this case, a person convinced Experian to give them access to their data files and the proceeded to steal this information despite not being an authorised user. 

As a citizen, it is likely you wouldn't have even known your data was part of this set since credit information services agency works for major businesses such as our banks. 

While it is expected that banks will ensure they themselves and whichever entity requires your data is secure, breaches and hacks can happen either by computer or human error. 

As a result, it's good to know what to do to protect yourself from a third-party leak. Here are some tips. 

Change your passwords 

As the news of the breach broke, Standard Bank sent out an advisory regarding banking and social media passwords. 

They advised users to change their passwords, as they are concerned this was among the information stolen. 

This is something that you should do regularly, even if you aren't worried about having had your information stolen. Many passwords in use are weak and can be easily hacked, especially if you made them a few years ago. 

Keeping your passwords shifting means that it's harder to gain access to your accounts based on older information found through this kind of leak. 

Keep an eye on your accounts 

As a result of it not being a direct attack on your account, it is hard to tell if such big leaks will effect you. This is why your next best port of call is vigilance.

Keeping an eye on your account by setting up payment notifications via sms from your bank, regularly checking statements and checking up on your credit score will mean you can spot irregularities quickly. 

The sooner you catch fraudulent behaviour, the easier it will be to reverse and block the source of these transactions. 

Register with South African Fraud Prevention Services

If you have your ID or passport stolen it's recommended to register with the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS)

This will alert banking and financial institutions to take extra care when approving applications that use your ID. Unfortunately this will mean more work for you when you want to do a legitimate transaction but it is worth it for the assurance your ID cannot be used illegitimately. 

Leila Stein

Leila Stein is an experienced multimedia journalist and content producer with a special interest in data journalism. she is skilled in news writing, editing, online writing and multimedia content production and have a Bachelor of Journalism  from Rhodes University and an Honours in Historical Studies from University of Cape Town.