It almost seems like I am telling you about a new major hacking of large companies and governmental agencies on a weekly basis and there is a reason for that.  Just like the bank robber said he robbed banks because that was where the money was so do hackers hack into the data held by companies large and small as well as governmental agencies because that is where the personal data is that they can turn into identity theft.  In today’s Scam of the day, the hacking was just discovered a couple of days ago, but it had been going on undetected since July.  Unknown hackers managed to hack into the webserver used by JPMorgan Chase’s website and stole information on 465,000 holders of prepaid cash cards issued by JP Morgan Chase.  Prepaid cash cards are increasingly popular, not just with companies, but with government agencies such as the IRS who will issue tax refunds on these cards which are often easier to use then checks.  JP Morgan has said that it has fixed the problem, but it is still notifying affected cardholders that their personal information that can be used for identity theft had been compromised.  Although JPMorgan Chase generally encrypts its data, the hackers managed to steal information before it was encrypted.  JP Morgan Chase says that important information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and email addresses were not stolen.  The bank still has not yet been able to determine how the breach of security occurred.


If you are one of the people affected, JPMorgan Chase will be contacting you and offering a free year of credit-monitoring services.  If you have not been contacted, but have used JP Morgan prepaid cash cards, you may wish to contact the company directly to confirm that your data was not taken.  This latest breach just reinforces the fact that when it comes to looking for a helping hand to protect you from identity theft, you will find it at the end of your own arm.  It is up to all of us to be proactive in protecting ourselves from identity theft by following the steps I describe in detail in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age.”  First and foremost, you should keep your Social Security number as private as possible.  Many companies will ask for it as an identifying number when they have no legitimate need for it.  In those cases, politely decline and offer another number such as your driver’s license number.  Also make sure that you keep your computer secure with anti-virus and anti-malware software that is constantly updated and keep paper documents secure as well.