Old-Fashioned Data Breaches Still Affect Consumers
Data breaches continue to be one of the most rampant privacy threats against the public. The issue is so severe that experts are even warning against data breach fatigue, or the sluggish response on the part of victims due to the record-setting numbers of events each year.
But with all the headlines about hacking events and breaches that expose millions of private records at once, it's very easy to forget that the “old-fashioned” methods of privacy loss are still very viable.
The old methods of identity theft and scams are still very much out there, and still in use. They tend to make fewer headlines because they’re reaching a relatively small pool of victims by comparison, but that doesn’t mean the damage that can occur is any less severe. Thieves still go “dumpster diving” for your old bills, bank statements, health insurance statements, and credit card offers. Stealing your outgoing mail from your home mailbox still leads criminals to the pieces of your identity puzzle. Check washing to change the payee and the amount still results in financial loss. And yet, these are only a handful of ways that low-tech criminals can go after your information and your money.
One recent case involved a Missouri hospital whose employee had nearly 250 patient records in the trunk of a car, located off hospital property. The car was broken into and the locked case that contained the patient records was stolen. While the information that was stolen didn't include Social Security numbers, it did contain medical histories which can be used for medical identity theft.
When it comes to identity theft and the loss of your information, prevention is always the best step. Safeguarding who you give your details to and learning how they plan to keep that information secure is crucial. But there will be times when preventing a data breach is completely out of your control, as in cases where you’re required to turn over your personal identifiable information and the company thinks they’ve secured it well enough.
In those cases, your next best step is to monitor your accounts closely for any signs of suspicious activity. Request copies of your credit reports each year, as they will show you any open accounts you have and any attempts at opening an account. Look over your health insurance statements and medical bills for any signs that someone is using your medical information to receive care, as this will help you know if your identity has been compromised. Check up on your bank accounts and credit card accounts routinely so that you’re immediately aware of anything out of the ordinary. Then no matter what strange activity you notice, take appropriate action right away.
Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.