Af­ter Equifax, how do I keep my data safe?

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

An as­ton­ish­ing 143m had their de­tails hacked. Fol­low these tips to keep your own in­for­ma­tion safe, says Amelia Mur­ray

Data pro­tec­tion is likely to be on ev­ery­one’s mind fol­low­ing the mas­sive cy­ber­at­tack on Equifax, the credit scor­ing firm, last week. The pri­vate de­tails of 143 mil­lion Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing names, ad­dresses, dates of birth and in some cases credit card num­bers, were un­law­fully ac­cessed. The firm has still not ad­mit­ted how many of the 44 mil­lion Bri­tish peo­ple on whom it holds data had their in­for­ma­tion com­pro­mised.

We rou­tinely al­low our per­sonal de­tails to be stored by scores of or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as govern­ment de­part­ments, util­ity com­pa­nies, banks and in­sur­ers – and we trust them to keep them safe. Many will be re­con­sid­er­ing that trust fol­low­ing the Equifax breach. So how can you find out who holds data about you, whether it’s safe and how to force them to delete it?

Com­pa­nies that keep your data must fol­low strict prin­ci­ples un­der the Data Pro­tec­tion Act 1998. Your in­for­ma­tion must be used fairly and law­fully for “specif­i­cally stated pur­poses”. The data must be ac­cu­rate and kept for “no longer than is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary”.

Firms must in­form you when they col­lect your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. You have the right to know what they are go­ing to use it for and where your data may be shared.

Check the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pri­vacy no­tice to find out what it in­tends to do with your in­for­ma­tion and if it r our es ses t. ink d e re on e t n re You can ask an or­gan­i­sa­tion to stop us­ing your de­tails if you are re­ceiv­ingng un­wanted mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial, but it won’t delete your data en­tirely be­cause­ause it will need to keep some de­tails to main­tain its “do not con­tact” list.

If your re­quest is ig­nored you cann take the firm to court or com­plain to the ICO. Gabriel Voisin, a data pro­tec­tion lawyer at Bird & Bird, said re­cent cases con­firmed that com­pen­sa­tion for dis­tress was avail­able even if the claimant could not show a mon­e­tary loss.

James Freed­man, a fraud preven­tion am­bas­sador for the City

The UK stock mar­ket is fac­ing an un­steady div­i­dend out­look. Com­pa­nies’ earn­ings rel­a­tive to their pay­outs are at their low­est level for 10 years – some, such as Shell, pay more to share­hold­ers than they make in prof­its. So do in­vestors face cuts to their in­vest­ment in­come?

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