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Identity Theft worry after hackers got my CV

Hi Declan and Brian, I was registered with the jobs website www.jobs.ie .I applied for jobs through their website and I recieved emails from them with job alerts.Last week I got an email from jobs.ie saying the their website was hacked into and a n

Hi Declan and Brian,

 I was registered with a jobs website. I applied for jobs through their website and I recieved emails from them with job alerts.Last week I got an email from the jobs website saying the their website was hacked into and a number of CV's were downloaded illegally and one of the CV's downloaded was mine. As you know CV's contain alot of personal information and I am very concerned what will happen.My CV had my name, address, telephone number, date of birth and PPS number. My question is what can I do next and can they be held liable if anything does happen with my details.Any advice would be much appreciated.  Thanks.  G.

Hello G.

Identity theft is fraud and fraud is as old as money or money’s worth. We all know stories of people who lie about their ages – years ago to join the army and nowadays to buy drink (false IDs etc).You’ll even find it in the Bible with the sin of coveting thy neighbour’s goods. But with the proliferation of online financial services such as banking etc., fraud is now a crime without borders

What is identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone takes your personal information such as your name, PPS number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud, theft or other crimes.

Identity theft is a very serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can end up spending months or years -- and significant amounts of money -- cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. And despite efforts at cleanup, in the meantime victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even be arrested and incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.

Statistics on Identity Theft.

There are no hard statistics in Ireland but I spoke with our American affiliate company Lieff Cabraiser Heimann & Bernstein and their experience is that almost 20 per cent of US consumers have fallen victim to identity theft, and younger adults are at greatest risk, according to an Experian-Gallup Personal Credit Index published August 4, 2005. Roughly 25% of American consumers under 30 have had their financial information stolen, the study found.

Identity theft is rampant and the problem is growing worse -- in recent months there have been numerous reports about breaches, break-ins and improper disclosures at large corporations , resulting in release of secret personal identity data and financial information. Suddenly things seem out of control: instead of losing our identities one by one, we're seeing criminals grabbing them in massive chunks -- literally millions at a time.

To deal with G’s particular query I am going to presume that you didn’t give this company any specific financial details like bank account numbers or credit card details or passwords so there is no immediate danger of the thieves going online and simply transferring funds out of your account. In fact what we are actually dealing with so far in this case is information theft. But what is worrying is that the thief might call a number of banks or credit-card companies and eventually get the right ones - then with your date of birth try to change the account instructions (such as statement billing address). To protect against this it would be best to contact the Data Protection Commissioner’s office, tell them what has happened and ask their advice on what specific action you should take. One possible option is to flag a “possible fraud alert” with the bank – the Commissioner’s office should be able to give you details of this procedure or call the bank or credit card company directly.

The general legal position is that unless a person has suffered actual financial loss as a result of identity theft there is no automatic right of compensation. This legal principle of worry about consequences extends to many other areas of the law and was laid down by the Supreme Court in a recent case involving workers who were exposed to an Asbestos contaminated work environment over a number of years but didn’t contract Asbestosis or other cancer related diseases as a result. The court held that even though the workers were stressed by the worry of possible future disability, in the absence of evidence of actual injury then there was no legal right to redress or compensation. The same general principle applies to G’s case.

What I am saying in this case is that unless you actually become a victim of identity theft and (say) your bank account is raided by the thieves or you suffer financial loss or a real threat of loss (not merely the possibility of loss) as a result of a thief pretending to be you,  then you don’t have an automatic right of redress or compensation.

So far in this case we are only dealing with information theft and not identity theft. The law regards on-line information theft that may lead to identity theft in exactly the same way as physical theft of hard copy information – if for example your CV was physically stolen in a burglary in the office. Unless the information is actually used for illegal purposes or the information is so sensitive as to make you go to extraordinarly and expensive lengths to protect yourself there is no loss. 

If on the other hand the theft of this information is proved to actually be used for identity theft, and your bank account is raided you may have a case against the bank as well those who stored your information but it is up to you to take reasonable precautions now and alert your financial service providers.



The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

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