A few days ago the travel website Orbitz announced that personal information of 880,000 of its customers who used Orbitz between January of 2016 and December of 2017 was hacked. The stolen information includes names, addresses, phone numbers dates of birth, gender and some payment card information. This puts the victims of this data breach in serious danger of identity theft. Orbitz discovered the data breach on March first and its prompt efforts to alert its customers are in stark contrast with Equifax and others who delayed months before informing victims. The email addresses put the victims of the data breach in increased danger of “spear phishing” which is phishing emails specifically tailored to the victims of the data breach in a manner that the spear phishing emails will appear trustworthy. People providing personal information in response to these spear phishing emails put themselves in serious jeopardy of identity theft and people clicking on links in these apparently trustworthy emails run the risk of downloading serious malware such as ransomware.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from many forms of identity theft is to put a credit freeze on your credit report at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. In addition, Orbitz is offering free credit monitoring for a year. It should be emphasized that unlike a credit freeze which may prevent identity theft in many circumstances, credit monitoring merely informs you earlier than you might have learned otherwise that you are a victim of identity theft.
If you were a victim of this data breach, you can sign up for the free credit monitoring by calling 855-828-3959 or by going to this website https://orbitz.allclearid.com/
To get started with a credit freeze, it’s best to first understand the laws and fees governing credit freezes in your state. This link describes the credit freeze laws for each state. http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/consumer-report-security-freeze-state-statutes.aspx
To get the maximum protection from identity theft, it is important to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:
Once you have frozen your credit, be sure to keep the PIN and information on how to unfreeze your credit report in a safe place.
As for protecting yourself from spear phishing, remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone” and never click on any link in an email or text message regardless of how trustworthy it may appear unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimate.
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