The Barefoot Investor: This is an open letter to Minister of Financial Services Stephen Jones

Minister, The Optus and Medicare hackers have rightly freaked everyone out. And as you know, the 17 million records that have been stolen in the last month are just a drop in the ocean compared to the number of data breaches that never make it into the news. .

So today I am writing to you with a simple solution.

This basically involves locking down each Australian’s private financial information, as well as an alert that lets us know whenever someone comes near our personal details.

The government has set aside $5.5 million to investigate the hacks. However, implementing my idea will not cost the Australian people (or the government) a penny. All you need is to find a political ticker, Minister.

Let me explain.

A criminal can hack someone’s identity and then apply for credit in their name.

Camera iconThe government has set aside $5.5 million to investigate the hacks. However, implementing my idea will not cost the Australian people (or the government) a penny. All you need is to find a political ticker, Minister. Credit: Provided /Pixabay

When the bank receives the criminal’s request, its system automatically checks the customer’s credit file. Above all, the customer does not receive an alert telling him that the bank has checked his credit file. The criminal can use this to his advantage, often logging dozens of credit card and personal loan applications as quickly as he can.

So the most logical solution would be to put a “lock and alert” system on our credit reports. In other words, lock each credit file so that no one can see it (without the customer’s consent) and send an immediate alert to the customer if someone tries to access it.

But there is a problem (or three in fact).

There are three credit bureaus in Australia (Equifax, Experian and Illion) that maintain credit records on virtually all adult Australians.

They are owned by major investors and last year they collectively made $521 million in revenue by selling our private data to financial institutions, according to IBISWorld.

The problem is that putting a lock on our credit records would put a lock on their profits. They won’t let that happen and have well paid lobbyists to make sure the government doesn’t allow it.

These lobbyists will tell you, Mr. Minister, that it is impossible. But it is possible. In fact, in America the government has already forced the credit bureaus to offer it. And in Australia the “lock and alert” technology already exists, via an app called Credit Savvy. So I suggest to you, Mr. Minister, that we require the credit bureaus to automatically lock our credit files and provide us with an alert service. This will block criminals while allowing legitimate credit inquiries.

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