Privacy & Data Breach
Depending on the the type of security that is breached, there are surprisingly few safeguards in today's economy despite technology and privacy laws. Although new laws are being enacted in most states, there are still daily news reports of personal and company data and accounts being exposed or stolen.
Here are some of the largest breaches affecting U.S. consumers in recent history:
- U.S. Federal Government employees (4 million personal data breached, Chinese hackers suspected)
- IRS (104,000 taxpayers data stolen)
- Veterans Administration (26.5 million veterans and active duty personnel’s data stolen from employee’s laptop)
- Tricare Military Insurance (5 million members personal data exposed)
- Global Payment Systems (1.5 million card accounts breached)
- Heartland Payment Systems (130 million card holders compromised)
- CarSystems Solutions (40 million cardholders, company went bankrupt)
- Citibank (360,000 cardholders affected)
- Bank of New York Mellon (the bank “lost a box of tapes” with 12.5 million customer accounts in 2008)
- Countrywide Financial (17 million mortgage holders, an employee sold the information to other companies)
- Sony (100 million user accounts stolen)
- Target (70 million customers data exposed)
- T.J. Maxx retailer (90 million cardholders)
What can you do if you think your personal information has been exposed?In addition to consulting an attorney, here are things to consider and steps you can take if you think your debit or credit account information has been breached:
- Customers are not likely to be contacted by their financial institutions, keep an eye on your accounts at all times.
- Check your statements and contact your bank immediately if you see unusual activity.
- You may put a hold or cancel a credit card while the bank or store investigates. Many banks and card issuers have policies that will not hold you responsible if you contact them immediately.
- Don’t trust e-mail and telephone calls from people who claim that they represent a company, cause, or organization who are seeking personal information. The rise in telemarketing fraud has led many individuals to lose substantial amounts by giving their credit or debit card numbers to scam artists over the phone.
- Never wire (Western Union and other services) money to anyone, at any time, unless you are absolutely sure they are who they say they are.
- Consider reporting fraudulent "robocall" telemarketing companies who ask for your personal and financial data. See our Consumer Rights and Telemarketing page.
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