Data breaches are unfortunately a new way of life.
If you have ever used a credit or debit card in the United States, chances are pretty good you’ve been involved in a data breach. In recent years, hackers have compromised data gathered and stored by major retailers including Target, Home Depot, T-mobile, Neiman Marcus, and hundreds more — as well as government agencies and other major institutions.
When a data breach occurs, hackers gain access to personally identifiable information that can be sold to criminals and used to commit identity fraud. Consumers whose data is exposed typically become aware of the breach via a letter or other communication from the organization that was breached. Many breached organizations offer free credit monitoring service, advise consumers to check their credit reports and keep an eye out for suspicious activity on their bank and credit card accounts. Despite these precautions, a breached entity often finds that many consumers no longer feel safe shopping at or using the organization’s services.
Data breaches are happening so frequently that they are almost becoming routine. The new norm? We hope not! Advocates are fighting for reforms that would better protect consumers’ personal information. In the meantime, consumers may feel vulnerable and on their own when it comes to protecting their data.