Data Breaches: More Victims than Citizens
The Identity Theft Resource Center provides a number of services related to identity theft prevention and victim support. In order to do that job effectively, it’s important to track the numbers of data breaches each year and the numbers of victim records that have been compromised. But new findings, at least in one state-wide study, found that there were more data breach victims in that state than citizens.
How is that possible? Because the numbers of victims who’d had their data stolen more than once resulted in numbers that were significantly higher. A report by Consumer Affairs found that 7.6 million residents of South Carolina had been victims of data breaches in the past five years, despite the fact that only 4.9 million people live in the state. That works out to an average of 1.6 data breaches for every resident, a number that’s hard to envision.
Of course, being a victim of those 1.6 breaches isn’t the reality for every single citizen. But it does mean that for every SC resident who has not had his or her information stolen in a data breach, other residents have been victimized over and over and over.
It’s important to not be alarmed into thinking that every single day brings a new data breach; to be fair, the bulk of the residents whose information has been stolen typically occurred in large-scale breaches, like the Department of Revenue breach or the Target breach that nabbed millions of consumer records at once. However, residents must keep in mind the fact that “data breach fatigue” is a real and harmful phenomenon. It can be so easy to ignore news of a data breach due to having already been the victim of a previous attack, or deluding yourself into thinking there’s no point in taking action since your data has been compromised in the past.
In any data breach, you’ll likely to receive a notification letter if your records were included in the attack. The letter will outline exactly what information was believed to have been compromised, as well as tell you what steps to take next. Even if you’ve been a victim—and even if you’ve taken these steps in the past—it’s important that you follow through with the protective measures.
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.