Take Action – Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft This Holiday Season

Reduce Your Risk of Identify Theft This Holiday Season
Reduce Your Risk of Identify Theft This Holiday Season

What is our personal information worth? 

With this 2014 holiday season rolling into full swing, Americans will spend more than $600 Billion, a 4.1% increase from last year. According to the Credit Union National Association, a poll showed that 45% of credit and debit card users will think twice about how they shop and pay given the tens of millions of shoppers impacted by breaches. Stealing identities is a lucrative pastime for those with ulterior motives. The Black Market pays between $10-$12 per stolen record. Yet when enriched with health data, the value is as high as $50 per record because it can be used for insurance fraud.

Are the thieves getting smarter or are we getting sloppy?  

With ubiquitous access to technology globally, general acceptance to online shopping, and the digitization of health records, there is more data online with more opportunities to steal our data than ever before.  Unfortunately for shoppers, 2013 was known as ‘the year of the retailer breach’ according to the Verizon’s 2014 data breach report. Unfortunately for patients, Healthcare providers were most noted for the highest percentage of losing protected healthcare data.

So what can we do to be a smarter and safer consumer?

No one wants to bank roll the thieves’ illegal habits. One way would be to regress 20 years, drive to the mall and make our purchases cash in hand or go back to completely paper-based healthcare.   Alternatively, here are a few suggestions to avoid being on the next list of victims:

1. Avoid irresponsible vendors and providers by being an educated consumer

Sites like The Identify Theft Resource Center and the US Department of Health and Human Services expose the latest breaches in retail and healthcare respectively. Look up who you are buying from and receiving care from and make sure they are doing everything they can to protect your data. If they didn’t respond in a timely fashion, tried to hide the breach, or didn’t implement new controls to protect your data, avoid them. Or take your chances.

2. Expect to be hacked, plan for it

Most organizations you trust with your personal information have already experienced a breach. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by the Ponemon Group sponsored by Informatica, 72% of organizations polled experienced a breach within the past 12 months; more than 20% had 2 or more breaches in the same timeframe. When setting passwords, avoid using words or phrases that you publicly share on Facebook.  When answering security questions, most security professionals suggest that you lie!

3. If it really bothers you, be vocal and engage

Many states are invoking legislation to make organizations accountable for notifying individuals when a breach occurs. For example, Florida enacted FIPA – the Florida Information Protection Act – on July 1, 2014 that stipulates that all breaches, large or small, are subject to notification.  For every day that a breach goes undocumented, FIPA stipulates $1,000 per day penalty up to an annual limit of $500,000.

In conclusion, as the holiday shopping season approaches, now is the perfect time for you to ensure that you’re making the best – and most informed – purchasing decisions. You have the ability to take matters into your own hands; keep your data secure this year and every year.

To learn more about Informatica Data Security products, visit our Data Privacy solutions website.

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