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Data breach guidance (e.g. personal information lost, hacked, stolen)

A data breach happens when personal information is accessed or released without authorisation, or is lost.

Data breaches can cause harm to the individuals whose personal information is affected. For example, a data breach could result in financial loss, or emotional distress. If you experience emotional distress, there are support services that can help you.

Examples of a data breach include when:

  • A USB or mobile phone that holds customers’ personal information is stolen
  • A database containing personal information is hacked
  • Someone’s personal information is sent to the wrong person.

Receiving data breach notifications from government agencies or organisations

Australian Government agencies and organisations with obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) must notify you of certain data breaches under the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme.

You will be notified about data breaches when an organisation believes you are likely to be at risk of serious harm. For example, a data breach may be likely to result in serious financial harm, or harm to your mental or physical well-being.

Read our Receiving data breach notifications resource for information on:

  • When you might receive a data breach notification
  • How you will be notified
  • When you can make a complaint.

Receiving data breach notifications

What to do after a data breach notification

There are steps you can take after becoming aware of a data breach to reduce your chances of experiencing harm.

Read our resource on What to do after a data breach notification for general guidance and links to other organisations that may be able to assist you.

What to do after a data breach notification

Additional resources

We have published a range of guidance on protecting your personal information. Read:

Resources for agencies and organisations

We have published various resources for Australian Government agencies and organisations on their NDB scheme obligations.

View resources