5 RED FLAGS YOUR PERSONAL DATA MAY HAVE BEEN STOLEN
In 2014, close to one billion online records were compromised in 1,922 confirmed incidents, including high profile data breaches such as Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase, Michaels and Neiman Marcus. The compromised records consist of usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and more.
Data breaches and other online security attacks show no signs of slowing down and it’s only a matter of time until we see headlines about another major brand compromised by cybercriminals.
Personal information stolen in data breaches is often either sold by cybercriminals for personal profit or used to make fraudulent purchases, set up fake online accounts and other illegal activity. With countless online credentials in the hands of cybercriminals, how can you tell if your personal data has been stolen? Here are five red flags:
• New accounts appear on your credit report – Many fraudsters attempt to set up credit cards, checking accounts, e-commerce website accounts and more using stolen personal credentials. Check your credit report frequently to see if any new or unfamiliar accounts have been opened using your personal information.
• Suspicious withdrawals or charges on your bank statements – Do you live in California and your credit card statement shows someone went on a shopping spree in Texas? Chances are a cybercriminal is using your personal information or credit card to make fraudulent purchases. Just as you should regularly check your credit report, do the same with your bank statements to ensure all purchases and other charges authentic.
• Debt collectors call about debts that aren’t yours – Identity thieves often use stolen information to make large purchases without paying the bill. If this happens to you, report the incident immediately to stop the identity theft in its tracks.
• Bills or other sensitive documents are missing from your mail or email –If your monthly bank statement suddenly stops coming in the mail or doesn’t hit your email inbox, this is not a good sign. If this is the case, a fraudster with your stolen credentials has likely filed a change of address form to prevent you from seeing fraudulent charges. Don’t take missing mail lightly – rather, contact your bank or other provider right away if you miss a statement.
• More than one tax return was filed in your name – Has the IRS notified you that more than one tax form has been filed in your name or a form was filed for a job you’ve never had? Tax e-filing fraud is on the rise and criminals often take advantage of this either to cash in on your tax return or avoid paying their own taxes. To avoid any repercussions from the government and protect your data from being compromised further, report any suspicious returns to the IRS before the return can be processed.
Given the extensive amount of records that have been compromised and continued online attacks, how can you stay protected? Report any red flags to the appropriate party as soon as you notice them. Also make sure to check your online accounts on a regular basis for suspicious activity, especially if you have an account with a business that has recently fallen victim to a data breach.
The most effective way to keep your online information protected is to put preventative measures in place. To ensure all your bases are covered, consider an all-in-one security solution, such as Ad-Aware Total Security, which provides anti-malware, a firewall, anti-spam, anti-phishing, and much more - ensuring complete online protection.