Data breaches. It seems that every week some other company is featured in the news as the latest victim. But who really is the victim? The company that was breached, or the people whose personal information was stolen? Have you been affected by a data breach? How would you know?
A recent survey published on Lexington Law ask over a thousand people whether they knew if their data had been stolen, and they found some disturbing facts:
- 56% of Americans have never checked if they’ve been affected by a data breach.
- 66% don’t know where to check when a breach occurs.
- Only 20% have checked for a breach within the last month.
- There were 1,579 data breaches in the US in 2017.
- 13.4 billion data records have been stolen since 2013.
- Over 14 million credit card numbers were stolen in 2017.
These are sobering statistics.
Do you know where to check and see if your information was included in any of these breaches? According to the survey, two-thirds of Americans do not. Here’s what to do:
- Check Troy Hunt’s website at https://haveibeenpwned.com/ to see if your email address has been involved in a breach. If you used several email addresses, check them all.
- You can also sign up to receive alerts from Troy if your emails turn up in a new data breach.
- Check your credit report and look for any unusual history. You can get a free report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
- Many credit card companies will provide free credit alerts, you just have to sign up
- Look over bank statements regularly for unusual activity. Ask your bank what sort of security offerings might be available for you.
- If you are notified that you are part of a breach, and receive an offer from the company for free credit monitoring – take it!
As I have said many times in this blog, the Equifax breach of 175 million credit histories includes pretty much everybody over the age of 18 who ever took out a loan or used a credit card. We can all be certain that our personal information is for sale somewhere. It is up to you to see where this has happened to you.