Broward Health, a network of more than thirty health care facilities has just disclosed that it suffered a massive data breach in which sensitive personal information including Social Security numbers, patient medial history and bank account information of more than 1.3 million people was stolen in a data breach that occurred in October of 2021.

As I have reminded you many times, we are only as safe and secure as the security of the companies, government agencies 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.

So what can you do to protect yourself from these data breaches that will be occurring?

TIPS

One important lesson is to limit the amount of personal information that you provide to companies and websites whenever possible.  For example, your doctor doesn’t need your Social Security number for his or her records.

You should make sure that you have a unique password for each of your online accounts so that if one of your passwords is compromised in a data breach, all of your accounts will not be in danger.  If your information is compromised in a data breach, you should immediately change the password for that account.

If you have not already done so, set up dual factor authentication for each of you accounts where it is available. This will protect you from having those accounts stolen by someone who may have access to your password.

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:
Even after freezing your credit reports, you should still regularly monitor them to look for indications of identity theft. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the three major credit reporting bureaus are offering free weekly online credit reports through April 2022. The weekly free reports can be ordered online only through the official website: www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Medical identity theft which occurs when cybercriminals steal your health insurance information and sell it for use by other people is a huge threat that can result in your medical records becoming corrupted and can cause tremendous difficulties in accessing your own insurance as well as result in your getting improper care because your medical records are corrupted with medical information of the identity thief.  In data breaches of health care facilities such as this one it is important to carefully check your Explanation of Benefits when you receive them to make sure that no one is accessing your insurance.

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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