Data Breaches

Not all data breaches result in fraud or identity theft.  Here’s how you can protect yourself.

Companies that handle your personal information are required by law to protect your personal information.  Unfortunately, companies sometimes lose records containing your information or are deliberately hacked by criminals.

These data breaches present a risk to consumers, but the risk depends on a number of factors.  For example, was the breach accidental or intentional? If digital information was compromised, was it encrypted (converted to a format that can’t be read by other people)?   Did the breach compromise account numbers, or information that can be used to commit identity theft, such as social security numbers and dates of births?

Companies will often notify you in the event of a data breach, or offer you a service that will monitor your accounts and notify you in the event of unusual activity.

The best thing you can do in the event of a breach is to monitor your accounts online for unusual.  Don’t wait for a paper statement – it might be too late to stop the damage to your account.

If you notice suspicious activity in your accounts – an ATM withdrawal or credit card purchase you didn’t make – contact the financial institution and follow the steps.

For more information, read the FTC's consumer alert, What to do if your personal information is compromised.

Breaches: What to Expect
Research suggests that consumers expect the following when they become breach victims:
  • Notification within one week of the breach
  • Protection against identity theft
  • Customer service representative who can help them understand if they have become a victim of identity theft
  • Victim assistance if they are confirmed as an identity theft victim
  • Reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses due to the breach and subsequent identity theft

Copyright © 2013    ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, is the national advocate for identity theft victims and a leading voice on identity policy. Millions of consumers have access to the ITAC victim assistance service through our members - the financial services companies who support ITAC and offer it as a free service for their customers. ITAC is dedicated to protecting all consumers through education, research and the criminal prosecution of identity crime.