The number of Americans impacted by identity theft annually grew 33% from 12.6 million in 2012 to 16.7 million 2017. Lifelock reports that data breaches are having the greatest impact on victims:
Nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft, according to a 2018 online survey by The Harris Poll. That same survey indicates nearly 15 million consumers experienced identity theft in 2017.
So, yes, the crime of identity theft is relatively common. And it’s probably safe to assume it won’t be dropping anytime soon. Why? Data breaches.
While there are many stories of identity theft in the news, what we tend to hear more about are data breaches—in which a company or other organization’s customer’s records, which may include full names, Social Security numbers, and other personal information, are accessed fraudulently.
The folks at the Identity Theft Resource Center publish regular summaries of U.S. data breaches, and it’s important to note that breaches can have an impact on identity theft.
In 2017, the Identity Theft Resource Center counted a new record high of 1,579 data breaches, exposing more than 178 million records. The big one—involving Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies—received a lot of attention. Not only was the number of potential victims quite large at 147.9 million, the kind of information exposed was significant. It included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.
I recently received a warning from Lifelock about a data breach at Earl Enterprises, which manages popular restaurant brands including Buca di Beppo, Planet Hollywood, Earl of Sandwich, Chicken Guy!, Mixology, and Tequila Taqueria. They wrote:
In a data breach notice posted on its website, Earl Enterprises confirmed that malware was installed on some point of sale systems at certain affected restaurant locations. The malware was designed to capture payment card data, including credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and cardholder names. Online orders paid for online through third-party apps or platforms were not affected by this breach. Per the company, the incident has been contained and is being investigated.
Earl Enterprises has yet to confirm the size, but independent security researchers reported over 2 million stolen cards are now for sale on the dark web on the dark web, seemingly as a result of this breach.
What does this mean?
While cardholders are generally not liable for fraudulent charges, it is important to monitor your credit and debit card accounts for suspicious charges and report fraudulent activity to your bank in a timely fashion.
I have been using Lifelock for years. I recommend you use a similar service if you take the security of your identity seriously.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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