Latitude Financial, an Australian personal finance company, recently suffered a massive data breach, with around 14 million customer records being stolen. The criminals behind the attack demanded a ransom, which Latitude refused to pay, leading to the potential posting of the data to the dark web. The company is still investigating the breach, and emails are being sent to customers, including those who have never been associated with Latitude. Here’s what you need to know about Latitude Financial, its history, and how this breach could impact you.
What is Latitude Financial?
Latitude Financial is a prominent provider of personal finance products in the Australian and New Zealand markets, catering to the diverse needs of its customers. The company offers an array of financial products, including credit cards, personal loans, car loans, and insurance, among others. One of Latitude Financial’s notable features is its innovative financing options, including interest-free credit cards and buy now, pay later schemes that are available through partnerships with major retailers. These financing options have made the company a popular choice for customers seeking to better manage their finances. In 2021, Bob Belan took over as CEO of Latitude Financial, succeeding Ahmed Fahour. With his wealth of experience and expertise, Belan is expected to steer the company towards continued growth and success, while maintaining its reputation for quality and reliability in the personal finance sector.
The History of Latitude Financial
Latitude Financial has been around for decades, with its roots dating back to 1925, when the Australian Guarantee Corporation (AGC) was founded. In 1957, the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac) purchased 40% of AGC and gradually increased its stake until it owned the company outright in 1988. In 2002, Westpac sold AGC to GE Capital, which used it to establish the GE Money brand in Australia, including the GE Consumer Finance and GE Capital Finance businesses.
GE Money bought Wizard Home Loans in 2004 but sold it to Aussie Home Loans in 2009. In 2014, GE Money warned Australian customers that it had been affected by the Heartbleed internet security bug. In 2015, GE Money sold its Australian financial services business to a group of investors who rebranded the business as Latitude Financial.
Why is the GE Money Connection Important?
Data stolen from Latitude Financial dates back to 2005, which means that customers of GE Money between 2005 and 2015 have also been affected by the breach. The GE Money brand offered a range of financial services between the GE Consumer Finance and GE Capital businesses.
GE Capital Finance had a partnership with Coles Group to offer branded credit cards for Coles and Myer, which formed when Coles Myer sold its credit card business to GE Capital in 1995. GE Capital and Coles partnered in 2014 to offer the Coles Mastercard credit card and personal finance products.
Coles now has a 10-year agreement with Citi Australia, which distributes the cards, after signing a deal in 2016. GE Capital also offered credit cards with Myer, which began in 2007 and included the Myer Visa Card and Myer Card Black. Myer’s credit cards have been issued by Macquarie Bank since 2017, after the retail giant’s partnership with Latitude was terminated.
GE Capital finance was also used by several major retailers, including Harvey Norman, with the majority of those professional relationships carrying over to the Latitude Financial brand.
What Does Latitude Financial Offer?
Latitude Financial has established itself as a major player in the Australian and New Zealand financial services markets, offering a wide range of products to meet the needs of its customers. These products include personal loans, car loans, credit cards, and insurance, among others. The company has gained popularity in the region, particularly for its interest-free credit cards and buy now, pay later schemes that are often offered in partnership with major retailers. These innovative financing options have made Latitude Financial a popular choice for customers looking to manage their finances more effectively. With a strong reputation for quality and reliability, Latitude Financial continues to be a trusted provider of financial services to customers across a broad range of demographics and industries.
The Latitude Financial data breach is a reminder of the importance of keeping personal data safe. If you’re a customer of Latitude Financial or have been associated with GE Money in the past, be vigilant in checking for any signs of fraudulent activity on your accounts. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately if you notice anything suspicious.
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Vogue Advisory Group – how we can help
As a financial advisory group, Vogue Advisory Group’s financial advisors can provide valuable advice to clients who may have been impacted by the recent data breach at Latitude Financial. The theft of 14 million customer records is a serious matter that has the potential to impact not only Latitude’s current customers but also those who have had a relationship with GE Money in the past.
It is important for clients to understand the potential risks associated with the theft of their personal data. Hackers may use the stolen information to commit identity theft, fraud, or other malicious activities. Clients should monitor their accounts closely for any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity and report any concerns to their financial institution immediately. In addition, clients should consider freezing their credit reports to prevent any new accounts from being opened in their name.
Clients should consider taking steps to improve their online security and protect their personal data going forward. This may include using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and avoiding sharing sensitive information online. Clients may also consider investing in cyber insurance to provide an added layer of protection in the event of future data breaches or cyber attacks.
In conclusion, the recent data breach at Latitude Financial highlights the importance of maintaining strong data security practices and being vigilant in monitoring personal accounts for any signs of fraudulent activity. Vogue Advisory Group’s financial advisors can work with clients to provide personalized advice and support, helping them navigate the aftermath of the breach and mitigate any potential risks to their financial wellbeing.