For the third day in a row our Scam of the day involves a major data breach, which is somewhat ironic since October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Certainly the millions of people affected by the data breaches involving T-Mobile, Experian, Trump Hotels and now Scottrade have become more aware of cybersecurity than perhaps they wished to be. Discount brokerage firm Scottrade just announced that it was the victim of a massive data breach that occurred between late 2013 and early 2014. Like so many corporate data breaches, the company itself never discovered the hacking. Rather, in this case it was the FBI that discovered the data breach in August of 2015. Approximately 4.6 million customers of Scottrade were and are affected by the data breach. Although we are being told by Scottrade that the data lost was limited to names and addresses, it is still a bit too soon to be truly comfortable that the data breach was indeed limited to this information. The company waited until now to announce the data breach at the request of the FBI so as not to jeopardize their investigation. Affected customers are now being contacted by Scottrade. As is so often the case, Scottrade is offering a year of free credit monitoring to affected customers although since the hacking took place so long ago, this may be a bit late for this type of response to be considered timely. Here is a link to Scottrade’s webpage containing information about the data breach, which also contains information about how to apply for the free credit monitoring if you were affected by the data breach. https://about.scottrade.com/updates/cybersecurity.html
If you were affected by the data breach and wish to sign up for the free credit monitoring service, you should call AllClearID at 855-229-0083 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Central Time Monday through Saturday. However, as I have said many times before, credit monitoring does not protect you from identity theft, it only lets you know sooner that you are a victim. It is similar to if you were crossing the street and got hit by a truck and someone came over to you lying in the street to tell you that you just got hit by a truck. A better step to consider is to put a credit freeze on your credit report which is possibly the best thing you can do to help protect yourself from identity theft. You can find information about credit freezes and how to put one on your credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies by going to the Scamicide archives and typing in “credit freeze.”
If you became a customer of Scottrade after February of 2014, your information was not compromised.
Although Scottrade will be notifying affected customers, so will scammers with emails in which they pose as Scottrade and attempt to lure you into clicking on links or providing information that will put you in danger of identity theft. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Never click on a link unless you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate. In the case of Scottrade customers, you are better off calling them directly rather than clicking on a link or providing information in response to an email or text message.