No company is safe from the danger of hacking including, as we recently learned Major League Baseball teams. The Houston Astros were recently embarrassed to announce that their computers had been hacked by unknown hackers who released information about trade discussions involving the Astros and a number of other Major League Baseball teams including the Miami Marlins with which a trade for All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was discussed. The hacking did not appear to be for any reason other than to expose and embarrass the management of the Astros, however that is of little consolation to employees of the Astros whose personal information can also be found in the Astros’ computers and which, if released could lead to identity theft.
This is just another example that no entity including governmental agencies as well as private companies is safe from the danger of hacking. A recent report by the State of New York indicated that in New York alone there were more than 900 data breaches that exposes personal and financial records of 7.3 million New Yorkers thus making them victims and potential victims of identity theft. It is important to remember that you are only as safe as the place with the weakest security that holds your personal information so whenever possible do not provide your personal information, such as your Social Security number to everyone who asks for it. Health care providers do not need your Social Security number although most request it. Often the only reason that they want it is to make it easier to collect an unpaid bill from you. The health care industry in general has done a poor job of protecting personal data from hackers. The place to find a helping hand in protecting your data is at the end of your own arm. Limit the places that have your personal information as best you can. When companies request your Social Security number, offer them another identifier for example. I recently did this with my eye doctor and the doctor agreed. You may also want to place a credit freeze on your credit report so that even if your Social Security number and other personal information is stolen, the identity thief will not be able to access your credit report. You can find information as to how to put a credit freeze on your credit report in the credit freeze section on the right hand side of this page.