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TalkTalk hack: How to protect yourself

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TalkTalk

TalkTalk has been on the end of its second major cyberattack of the year. What can you do to protect yourself if you're a worried customer? Let's take a look.

The UK broadband provider recently revealed that it had been the target of "a significant and sustained cyberattack" on its website. This has led to the private information of some of its customers - including bank details, email addresses, home addresses, and telephone numbers - being compromised.

The matter is under investigation by UK police, and a group has even contacted TalkTalk claiming responsibility and asking for payment.

So, what can you do to protect yourself if you're a TalkTalk customer?

Monitor your accounts

Keep a close eye on your bank accounts over the next few months. If you spot any unusual or unexplained financial activity - no matter how small - contact your bank immediately.

In the event of such a discrepancy, TalkTalk also recommends contacting Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Note that TalkTalk has advised all of the major banks of this attack, so they should also be on the lookout for any unusual account activity.

You can also check your credit report with the three main credit agencies: Call Credit, Experian and Equifax.

Be cautious on the phone

Be extra cautious when taking calls from apparently legitimate agencies.

Note that no credible agency, including TalkTalk, will ever ask for your bank details over the phone. TalkTalk also points out that it would never ask you to download software onto your computer, unless you had already contacted TalkTalk yourself and discussed such a procedure.

If you have any doubts whether a TalkTalk phone call is legitimate, simply ask for a reference number and call them back on 0870 444 1820.

Check your email

TalkTalk will never ask you to provide your full password in an email. At most, it would only ever ask for two digits from that password for verification purposes.

In fact, you should be suspicious of any email - no matter how official-looking it might be - that asks you to reply to it with personal details.

Also watch out for emails that contain a link, and that ask you to click on it. Criminals can use such links to phish for more personal information. If you are provided with a legitimate-looking web address, type it in manually.

While we're on the subject of email, keep an eye on your email accounts for indications that someone has set up an account of some sort using your personal details. That includes both your inbox and your sent items.

Change your passwords

As soon as the TalkTalk website is up and running, be sure to change your password. Also change your password on other websites if you're in the habit of using the same one multiple times.

Ideally, you should have a different password for every account you sign up to.

Last resort: Change your card

This is perhaps a little drastic, but it's perfectly acceptable to ask your bank to replace the card you have registered with TalkTalk. That way, any card details obtained in such a hack would be useless.

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