Watch your account activity

off-road vehicle at an obstacle

Heard about that Experian thing yet? Not sure? Have you heard that a credit bureau has been hacked, posting the personal information of half the South African population online? That’s the Experian hack.

Credit bureaus collect and store your personal information, then profit off of this information by selling it to their customers – banks, money lenders, credit card companies, basically anyone in the business of lending you money. You are their product.

In the case of Experian, the company claims an individual pretended to be one of their customers and gained access to information. That’s the information on 24,000,000 South Africans and as many as 800,000 companies according to TimesLive.

Originally Experian indicated that they had traced the person involved, that the computers used had been seized and that the information deleted. Two days ago reports emerged that the stolen data has made its way onto the dark web which means it is available to the hacking community.

Now, why should you care about a bit of data that’s been nicked in an apparent phishing attack? Anyone who lays hands on this data can impersonate you, that means buying online, opening accounts and … lending money. The onus is on you to prove this wasn’t you and not only will it affect your credit rating, but it is going to affect every transaction you make in future too. There will be doubt when you try and do anything because who can be sure if it is the real person or an impostor?

Also, once something is online, getting it removed and disappeared forever is a monumental task. What you need to be doing now is making sure you know what is happening in your bank account, being careful to check any odd transactions that might try to take place and make sure that anything that looks odd in terms of accounts is dealt with. Don’t leave it, take the time to check and be sure.

What you can also do is check your current credit rating online. Visit My Credit Check online and create a login. It is a free service to see your standing in terms of credit and your rating.

It is an annoyance indeed that such a successful hack took place on a credit bureau rather than targeting a bank. I can think of a few bills that could do with a bit of erasing!

On a final note, have you heard about “dancing mania”? This is a phenomenon which appeared sometime during the 14th century and lasted until the 17th. For 300 years groups of people would simply start dancing “erratically” – and when I say groups it could be as many as thousands at a time. This dancing plague, also known as choreomania, St John’s Dance and St Vitus’ Dance, isn’t quite as festive as it sounds since the people involved would dance for hours at a time until collapsing from exhaustion. After three centuries of outbreaks across Europe the phenomenon just stopped, and no-one knows where it came from or where it went.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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