Sony has confirmed that all credit card data on its systems was stored in encrypted form, which should limit its usefulness for financial fraud.
However, other user data, such as passwords and address details, was stored in plain text, and will be open to use by “phishers” and spammers.
Although it took Sony a week to admit the colossal breach of online security, bank industry body Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) has issued an urgent alert to victims.
“There’s no need for customers to contact their bank or card company at this stage,” said a FFA UK spokesman.
“However, customers should continue to do what they should normally be doing: checking their statement and keeping a close eye on their account for any unusual activity. If they spot any, they should contact their bank or card company.”
One of the major worries for UK PS3 subscribers is that many customers use the same passwords for their PlayStation account as they do for other financial accounts. FFA UK recommends they should change these passwords as soon as possible.
Victims of hacking have also been warned to watch out for spam emails - “phishing” attacks - which are targeted attempts to acquire confidential information.
Phishers send out emails that look like a genuine communication from the recipient’s credit card company or bank, with the request they fill in an online form with personal information.
This information can then be used to open accounts in the victim's name, such as mobile phone contracts or utility services, or used to apply for credit cards and loans.
Fraudsters can also open bank accounts, apply for state benefits, order goods in someone else's name and obtain genuine legal documents such as passports, driving licences and birth, marriage and death certificates.
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