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The hack of Sony’s PlayStation Network is not the first such exposure of confidential client information and most certainly not the last. Cybercrime occurs every day; we just no made aware of most of the hackings that happen, because they are not on a significant enough scale to warrant media attention. The PlayStation hack attack exposed close to 77 million people to a highly significant risk of identity fraud which possibly also includes breach of credit card details information.

Fortunately, Australian authorities have not heard of any reports of fraudulent transactions and, we are told, the banks are closely watching the situation. However, all consumers are urged to remain alert.

Hackers can access secure sites for the sheer joy of breaking into an encrypted network. However, a large number of them are also happy to pass on some of the confidential information to a more organised group of criminals. Some hackers are even employed by these groups.

Hacked personal information can be used to open various accounts, for example, for mobile phone contracts, energy, gas and water services. The details can also be used to apply for a credit card or a loan, which can then be used to the maximum.

These cybercriminals can also order goods and/or services in your name, take over your existing accounts, and  even get genuine documents such as a passport.

So, if you did not think this was serious, please reconsider.

International fraud experts have said repeatedly that consumers should be on guard for any business deals or other offers appearing out of the blue and requiring you to fill in a lot of personal information. If you did not ask for this offer to come to you, you should not trust it. You would not give your personal phone number and the names of your kids to a stranger on the street, well, this is no different. Plus, remember the golden consumer mantra, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Some of you may wonder if you would be able to continue to use your credit card if you are a victim. Well, if it is just the credit card that the criminal have got and all they are doing is going on a shopping spree, then yes, you would. However, it is likely that your bank will pick up on the unusual activity and shut the credit down for your safety.  

If you’re a victim of identity fraud, the situation is much more serious as you can find yourself locked out of all personal finances. It will be challenging for you to obtain loans, credit cards or deal with anything finance related until this matter is resolved. Also, you may be burdened with a major debt as a result of the fraudster spending the money for you. Generally, however, if the case of identity fraud is proven, these debts can be waived.

The financial problems are not the end of it, in the worst case scenario; you may end up with a criminal conviction under your stolen identity. And that is a much more serious matter.

If you suspect that you may be a victim of such fraud, you should not ignore the problem or doubt yourself. The longer you wait the more problematic it can become. In cases like this, it is truly better to be wrong than sorry you did not trust your initial hunch. Call your credit card provider as soon as possible and inform them of your suspicions. The bank will investigate the issue for you and report any suspected criminal activity to the police.

I would also recommend that you obtain your credit report, if you have not done that already. This will show any searches made by a possible lender. Every business giving you money or something on a loan or a lease tends to do so to secure themselves from possible problems. The record of such searches will be stored on the credit report and you will easily be able to identify any that were not made at your request. It will also state what credit accounts are set up under your name and you will know if any of them are not yours.

And whatever you do, if you believe you are a victim of identity fraud, stay on the case. Gaining you identity back will not be an easy process, but if you do nothing in the beginning it is likely to be even more challenging.

If you were/are a user of PlayStation, you certainly cannot afford to relax at this time. Acting now, may be the key to staying safe. This means auditing all your accounts, changing passwords, keeping a very close eye on how and where you spend your money. You can also just call your bank and let them know that you are concerned.

If you want to make sure you and your personal data be careful, do not give out your personal information with out seriously considering the reasons why, and check, check, check everything.

If you are worried about such information being obtained from your personal computer or you are concerned fro your client’s information located on your office server, it is important that you take the issue of your network security seriously. Investing into a good firewall is a must and having a computer service professional install the security network systems is equally important. You do not want to tell your clients that their personal details have been exposed because you decided to save on IT expenses and had am office Gen Y set up the firewall.

Over and out.

Mobile Geekette

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