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The Information Regulator and Experian South Africa make statement in relation to Experian South Africa incident

27 August 2020 The Information Regulator and Experian South Africa

On 19 August 2020, Experian South Africa announced that it was continuing to investigate an isolated incident in South Africa involving a fraudulent data inquiry.

An individual purporting to represent a legitimate client of Experian South Africa fraudulently requested services from Experian. The services involved the release of consumer information which included telephone numbers and in some instances an address and employment details of individuals. No consumer credit or financial information was obtained by the fraudster in this incident. The fraudster also obtained bank account numbers on some business entities.

Upon discovering the incident, Experian South Africa notified the Information Regulator and the National Credit Regulator and proceeded with legal action. Experian South Africa have also informed law enforcement of the incident.

Advocate Pansy Tlakula, Chairperson of the Information Regulator said:

“We have engaged with Experian South Africa to analyse the details in relation to Experian’s South Africa’s fraudulent incident and to ensure that Experian is taking all necessary steps to protect South Africans.

“While this is a regrettable incident, we note that Experian South Africa has responded promptly to all our requests and has taken measures to protect the data of South Africans by engaging with multiple stakeholders, instituted actions to inform affected data subjects and other affected stakeholders, and put in place additional organisational measures to prevent unauthorised access from happening again. Experian South Africa has also informed us that having identified the suspect they are working with the authorities to bring the perpetrator to justice.

“We will continuously work with Experian to monitor compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPIA) and to ensure that the data of South Africans is appropriately processed, secured and protected.

“The recent spike in data exposure incidents in South Africa reinforces the importance of understanding not only cybercriminal activity but also sophisticated fraud impersonation techniques and how they relate to the protection of personal information.

“We encourage all companies to be vigilant of advanced social engineering and fraudulent impersonation and to put in place adequate and appropriate measures.”

Experian Africa CEO, Ferdie Pieterse said:

“I sincerely apologise to anyone that has been affected by this incident, and advise any individual who has concerns about their data to check their credit report by visiting www.mycreditcheck.co.za, which they can do for free, for life. They will also receive free SMS alerts when a credit enquiry is made on their credit report from now until 1 March 2021.

“While the investigation continues, we can confirm that civil and criminal procedures are being pursued against the perpetrator as we take every step available to us to limit the impact to citizens and businesses in South Africa.

“I am sorry that this incident has occurred and confirm that we took immediate action to introduce additional controls to prevent this type of incident from occurring again. We are working closely with all relevant authorities, including the Information Regulator, to help ensure data protection for all South Africans.”

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