Credit Monitoring - Helping Consumers Navigate a Data Breach

In a world where data breaches have become more prevalent, having a response plan can be just as important as the security measures taken to prevent one. We explain how a strong credit monitoring platform can empower consumers to detect potentially fraudulent activity.

The cost of data breaches

In 2020, the average cost of a data breach to a South African organisation was R31 million.

The cost of data breaches

Organisations under a global spotlight

Reputational damage caused by a data breach isn’t as easy to quantify as financial costs — but when customers lose trust, businesses lose customers. Some affected companies choose not to notify potentially affected consumers — perhaps in part to preserve their standing. But POPIA now requires businesses that experience a data breach to describe remedy measures and provide recommendations to consumers to mitigate effects.

Over the last few years, high-profile breaches have raised awareness and concern among consumers and the organisations trusted with personal and financial data. Regardless of size or potential exposure, every organisation should have controls in place to guard against data breaches, and a plan to respond should security measures fail.

Your breach response toolkit for ‘when’ not ‘if’

With so many opportunities for a data breach to occur, having an ‘it can’t happen to me’ attitude is unwise and unrealistic. It’s smart to prepare for possible worst-case scenarios — and imperative to have a breach response to minimise financial losses. It can also help in regaining customer trust.

To show you’re taking responsibility and action, implement a communication plan that informs impacted customers before they hear the news elsewhere and lose confidence in how you’re handling the situation — and their data. A robust remediation strategy to assist customers who may be victims — and those who may be vulnerable to further breaches — is also highly encouraged.

Tools organisations can consider:

  • Credit reports: As a snapshot of a consumer’s credit history, the credit report can help consumers determine if they may be victims of identity theft or fraud. It can take the average South African organisation months to identify a potential data compromise. A credit report can quickly help consumers reconcile historical inconsistencies.
  • Credit monitoring: Credit alerts serve as a fraud detection mechanism and can provide consumers insights into changes on their credit file — for example, a new credit enquiry or credit product.
  • Providing customers access to online educational resources: Knowing how to spot potential identity theft and what steps will help remediate it is vital for all consumers.
  • Identity theft insurance: This can provide peace of mind and financial compensation should consumers fall victim to identity theft.
  • Dark Web monitoring: Scanning the Internet for a consumer’s personal or financial information on the dark web and receiving alerts can help detect identity theft early.

Data can help organisations identify patterns and trends that can lead to potential sources of a breach and help determine its scale. It can also strengthen your ability to identify and remedy vulnerabilities that may have exposed you to the breach.

Use the credit monitoring alarm system

Criminals want to monetise stolen personal or financial data as quickly as possible — by selling it to a third party or using it to apply for different credit products. Credit monitoring platforms are powerful tools for detecting and helping consumers address potentially fraudulent activities.

When consumers enrol for credit monitoring, they have unlimited access to their credit report and score — with early warning alerts of potential identity impersonation or fraud, credit enquiries, and material changes made to their credit file. As soon as they receive an alert, they can contact the organisations involved or credit reporting agency to promptly investigate.

Credit monitoring platforms can play a crucial role in your data breach response plan, but remember, awareness and adoption are essential. Educate your customers on all aspects of the monitoring service, so they can quickly identify potential misuse of their personal information or fraudulent activity on their credit file.

Learn more about TransUnion’s solutions

TransUnion is a global insights and data provider that reports the financial and credit information of approximately 25 million credit-active South Africans. Our technology and data capabilities allow us to develop innovative solutions that assist organisations with breach response plans for different consumer demographics.

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