After Equifax, how do I keep my data safe?
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?