According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there have been 371 data breaches that have exposed 12,871,065 records so far this year in the United States.
NetworkWorld reports that businesses suffered the most breaches, making up 35% of the total. Medical and healthcare services accounted for 29.1% of breaches. The government and military made up 16.2% of breaches. Banking, credit, and financial services experienced 10.5% of breaches, and 9.2% of breaches occurred in educational institutes.
Even if you are protecting your PC and keeping your critical security patches and antivirus definitions updated, there is always a chance that your bank or credit card company may get hacked. I’ve received three letters accompanied by three replacement cards from my credit card companies over the last few years.
Beyond that, if someone else’s database is hacked and your Social Security number is compromised, you may never know about it unless they send you a letter or if you discover that someone has opened new accounts in your name.
In many cases, if (and that’s a big “if”) a company finds out their records have been compromised, they might provide credit monitoring of some kind. Credit monitoring is definitely something you should take advantage of. However, I wouldn’t wait for your information to be hacked and a letter to come in the mail before you take responsibility for protecting yourself.
I did a radio show today and a man called in telling a story of how he got a letter from his bank, but they didn’t activate credit monitoring for almost six months after he received the letter. With millions of records being compromised every year, consider your data breached!
Don’t waste time by only handling identity theft reactively. Do something about it now.
To ensure peace of mind, subscribe to an identity theft protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com
Robert Siciliano is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert. See him discussing celebrity identity theft on CNBC. (Disclosures)