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Elsa Markula
Published on: 11 Oct 2022

CreditSmart media release: 11 October 2022

Consumers impacted by the recent Optus data breach should look to take a comprehensive approach to protecting their credit identity and overall credit health.

Chief Executive Officer of ARCA, Elsa Markula, said while there has been a lot published over the last few weeks about how consumers can protect themselves, it is important to remember that no one step will provide holistic protection.

For more comprehensive protection, consumers should follow each of our four simple steps to protect their identity. Consumers should also look to implement these credit reporting steps with each of the three credit reporting bodies, rather than just one,” Ms Markula said.

1. Change identity numbers

CreditSmart advises consumers to change their identity information (such as their driver’s licence information), if advised by Optus that this information has been compromised. This will help prevent fraudulent activity, where a fraudster attempts to open accounts using their identification.

2. Implement a short-term credit ban

CreditSmart encourages those impacted to implement a short-term credit ban, by requesting this service from a credit reporting body, to provide time for a person to put in place other protections, and to help avoid a lender providing a loan to a fraudster.

“Credit bans restrict access to an individual’s credit file and can be coordinated across all credit reporting bodies. Consumers should make sure they keep copies of all material provided by credit reporting bodies when bans are established, as they may need this for when a ban is either extended or removed. Arranging or lifting a ban is a fairly simple process and usually takes less than 24 hours,” Ms Markula said.

3. Set-up longer term credit alerts

CreditSmart urges consumers to monitor their credit report by subscribing to an alert service from each of the three credit reporting bodies (CRBs) - Equifax, illion (via Credit Simple) and Experian (via Credit Savvy), to ensure that they are alerted to any suspicious activity.

“All three credit reporting bodies offer credit alerts, either direct from the credit reporting body, such as Equifax, or through providers such as Credit Simple or Credit Savvy.

Alerts provide a service that notifies a consumer whenever their file has been accessed and so if the access looks suspicious, the consumer can let the credit provider know that it is fraudulent.”

4. Regularly check your credit report

CreditSmart strongly recommends getting a copy of your credit report from each of the credit reporting bodies to help you identify any suspicious activity on your credit report, which may be an indication that someone has fraudulently applied for credit using your personal information.

Speaking broadly about the need for taking control of your credit health and credit report, Ms Markula stressed the need for consumers to remain vigilant and aware of their personal circumstances.

“Taking control of your credit report has never been more important. It is critical to own your credit health; that starts by understanding how a credit report works and monitoring it regularly to ensure that you remain on-track.”

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