By now, we’ve all heard about the Equifax “cyber-security incident” that compromised the personal data of nearly 143 million U.S. consumers. The credit-reporting company indicated that Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, credit card information and drivers license numbers were stolen from their system in July. According to Fleming Shi, a vulnerability expert and senior vice president at Barracuda Networks: “This breach is like a Category 5 hurricane in the cyber world, affecting at least one-third of the U.S. population.” Given that Social Security numbers do not change, those whose information was exposed will continue to be at risk for years to come.
Identity thieves impersonate their victims to steal from bank accounts, establish phony insurance policies, open unauthorized credit cards or obtain bank loans and mortgages. Victims are often left with lower credit scores and difficulty getting credit, obtaining loans and even finding employment. Recovering from identity theft is neither quick nor easy; the long, and often frustrating process may take years.
While we must remain vigilant to protect our own identity information (also see our cyber-safety features: 7 Safeguards Against Identity Theft and Beware What You Share), when a security breach occurs at any trusted keeper of our information, all bets are off. With cybercrime on the rise and increasing reports of large data stores being hacked, it seems not a matter of IF your personal information will be compromised but WHEN. Even though the train has left the station with our information held by Equifax, purchasing Identity Theft insurance now, can provide protection for the risk of years to come.
Dwyer Insurance ©2017