Has your personal information been compromised?
You may think that compromised contact information doesn’t really matter. It’s just about spam emails, advertising emails and nuisance calls, right?
Nope! Contact information in the hands of criminals may result in identity theft, which means they can steal money or gain other benefits. Even if you think thieves only may have retrieved a small amount of information about you, they can use it to find more, such as photographs, dates and places of birth and further information about your family. This stolen information can be enough to apply for other services, such as a new bank account.
Your contact information can also be used to entice you into opening emails. This has the potential to compromise data on your computer, or allow hackers to access your online accounts.
Contact information is commonly sold on the dark web, on a per-line basis at $1 US per line. Each line contains a name, a full address, a date of birth, and so on. Criminals need to purchase only a few lines to commit identity fraud.
Suggested actions to consider:
- Be aware that a scam email might be personalised and addressed to you by name.
- Change your email account passwords regularly. Make sure you have strong passwords that aren't used for other accounts.
- If you have previously emailed yourself your online account passwords, such as your online banking password, change these regularly too.
- Enable multi-factor authentication for your email accounts where possible (e.g. password and text message).
- Ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on any device you use to access your emails.
- Do not open attachments or links in emails or social media messages from strangers. If you are concerned about whether the contents of the message are genuine, flag this with the sender through an alternative contact method.
- Do not share your personal information until you are certain you can trust the person you are sharing that information with. If you are contacted by an agency or organisation that you are unsure about, you can choose to hang up and call the agency back using publicly available contact details (e.g. from their website) to be certain the company is legitimate before providing personal information to them.