TalkTalk hack: how to protect yourself

TalkTalk has revealed today that millions of its customer’s details may have been exposed in a massive cyber attack. Among the information that TalkTalk has said may have been revealed are credit card details, TalkTalk account information, name and address, date of birth and email addresses.

Worryingly, TalkTalk has admitted that some of this information was not encrypted, though has not said which. What this means is that at least some of it was stored in ‘plain text’ and will be openly visible to the hackers.

If you’re a TalkTalk customer you need to be on your guard for scams and fraud arising from this incident. There’s no need to panic though, and the good news is that protecting yourself is as much about what you shouldn’t do as what you should.

Monitor your bank accounts and credit record

Keep a close eye on your bank statements and credit report (using a service such as Equifax or Experian) for any suspicious transactions. While we don’t yet know the full extent of the leak it’s best to assume they have got hold of enough info to make fraudulent payments.

Watch out for phishing emails

The hackers may use the harvested information to extract further personal details, including things like bank accounts and credit/debit cards, by sending phishing emails. These could be far more convincing than usual as they’ll utilise the data they already have to masquerade as TalkTalk. If you get an email appearing to come from TalkTalk make sure any links go to the actual home page and not any other site. Do not respond to requests for passwords or other personal data as TalkTalk will not ask for this via an email.

Beware of scam calls

Similar to the phishing messages, you might receive phone calls from scammers which could sound very legitimate. Be wary of any calls appearing to come from TalkTalk. They should never ask you to install software or provide passwords over the phone. If you’re in any doubt about the veracity of call you should hang up and contact TalkTalk customer service on the official number.

Change your password

Change any passwords associated with your TalkTalk accounts. If you have used the same password on other sites you should also change these immediately. We highly recommend using a password management tool such as Lastpass or 1password to bolster your password security as they will help you use a unique password for each site without having to remember everything.

For further guidance on security and protecting yourself online have a read of our internet security feature.