(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – The first three months of 2011 have proven to be lucrative for would-be identity thieves.
According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse – a non-profit consumer organization focused on consumer information and consumer advocacy – data breaches in the US are up 10% in 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010 and up nearly 71% compared to the first quarter of 2009. A data breach occurs when confidential personally identifiable information (PII) like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, email address or health information is exposed to or accessed by an unauthorized person.
Just this week, the Texas-state Comptroller’s Office announced a data breach containing the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and possibly more personally identifiable information (PII) of nearly 3.5 million Texans.
“Every year we see more companies announce the loss of personal data, and yet, consumers still don’t believe there is a possibility that someone will be, or could be, using it,” said Todd Davis, Chairman and CEO of LifeLock, the industry leader in identity theft protection.
“Studies have shown that this information does get used, however, there is no smoking gun or trail of bread crumbs leading back to the organization that lost the information once a problem is discovered by the consumer. As consumers, who is standing up to defend us? While new legislation has been introduced to provide better solutions to a real problem, consumers must become better educated about data beaches and understand what options they have to protect themselves.”
As of April 12, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse reports 160 data breaches in 2011, affecting more than 9 million records. Agencies losing data in 2011 include 20 educational institutions, 25 government or military agencies and 11 financial institutions/insurance services.
Earlier this month, marketing giant Epsilon issued an alert regarding the unauthorized entry into its email system disclosing the names and email addresses and/or customer names. According to the Wall Street Journal, affected companies include J.P. Morgan Chase, TiVo, Best Buy, Target and others.
Consumers concerned about the growing threats of lost data should understand that simply electing a credit monitoring service is not a whole solution. Credit monitoring can be effective but if consumers have concerns over instances of lost data they should consider researching companies that offer proactive identity theft protection, like LifeLock.