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Can a data breach hurt me years later?

May 12, 2013Consumer Protection

Yes.  In fact, it’s far more likely to hurt you then.

I’ve written about the 2012 SC Department of Revenue Breach (in which 3.8 million social security numbers, among other things, were stolen from DOR) and you’ve heard all about it. Think the worst is over? Think again.  Here are some scary facts:

1) Data Breach victims are 4x more likely to become identity theft victims (ie., to have their names and ID’s not merely stolen, but USED to actually DO SOMETHING BAD, ranging from fraudulent accounts to terrorism).

2) Studies from javelinstrategy.com show that, after committing the data breach, the thieves typically wait 2-3 years before using the information. That’s well past when your “free credit monitoring” offered as “compensation” by the DOR will run out (assuming you signed up for it). Happy 2014.

3) And, DOR’s system remains vulnerable, according to recent USA Today article.

So what do you need to do? Don’t rely just on monitoring. Request a SECURITY FREEZE on your credit reports. To place a security freeze, you must contact each agency individually. Under South Carolina law, the consumer reporting agencies cannot charge consumers fees for placing, temporarily lifting or removing a security freeze. That will lock down your credit file and generally prevent unauthorized account opening. (The downside, you won’t be able to get instant credit at, say Belk, without first lifting the freeze).

Here are the numbers to call. Equifax at 1-800-685-1111, Experian at 1-888-397-3742 or TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289.

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