As I have reminded you many times, we are only as safe and secure as the security as the companies and websites that have our personal information.  So even if you are extremely diligent in protecting your personal information, you can be in danger of identity theft and scams if your personal information falls into the hands of hackers which is just what happened to people whose information was contained in emails from employees of The Millennia Companies, a billion dollar Ohio based real estate management company.  Between October 21, 2019 and December 8, 2019 a number of employee email accounts were hacked that included significant amounts of personal information such as names, Social Security numbers, credit card information and more that could lead to identity theft.  While the data breach occurred in 2019, Millennia did not become aware of it until recently and on June 29, 2021 notified people whose information was compromised.  The company also offered credit monitoring services to these people.

Personal information, such as the information contained in the hacked emails is used by cybercriminals not just to directly steal the identities of the affected people, but also to create specifically targeted spear phishing emails and text messages (called smishing) to lure people into clicking on malware infected links or providing personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  While many common phishing emails and text messages are easily recognized as phony, sophisticated spear phishing emails and text messages can be tailored by the criminals to our own interests using the information obtained through the data breach in order to appear to be trustworthy which makes them quite dangerous.

TIPS

One important lesson is to limit the amount of personal information that you provide to companies and websites whenever possible.  It is also critical that we all remember that whenever we get an email, text message or phone call, we can never be sure who is really contacting us so you should never click on links or provide personal information in response to such communications unless you have absolutely confirmed that the communication was legitimate.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.

Freezing your credit is something everyone should do.  It is free and easy to do.  In addition, it protects you from someone using your identity to obtain loans or make large purchases even if they have your Social Security number.  If you have not already done so, put a credit freeze on your credit reports at all of the major credit reporting agencies.  Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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