Data breaches have become a part of every day life and their numbers continue to increase.  In the first three months of 2022 alone there were 404 major data breaches.   The latest major data breach involves Shields Health Care Group which provides imaging and ambulatory surgical services to many health care facilities.  Shields recently reported that it had been hacked between March 7, 2022 and March 21, 2022 in a data breach that compromised the data of 2 million people and included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other sensitive information that could easily lead to identity theft. https://shields.com/notice-of-data-security-incident/

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 the end of 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.

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