Isn’t it about time for you to stop acting as though identity theft can only happen to everyone else, but somehow not you? If you are one still living in the land De-lusion I can only hope that you have not visited a Wendy’s lately, or have done much financial transacting for that matter. A report has just become public that over 1000 Wendy’s Hamburger chains across the nation have been hacked, since September of last year(1). As reported on Welivesecurity.com on July 8th, “Wendy’s believes that the malware has been effectively deployed on some franchisee systems since late fall 2015, stealing the following payment card data: cardholder name, credit or debit card number, expiration date, cardholder verification value (different from the three digits on the back of your card), and service code.”
Fact is that identity theft and data breaches have become the “new norm” to the extent that when a breach occurs effecting as many as 21,000,000 via the U.S Office of Personnel Management, 6,000,000 via the Georgia Secretary of State, 10,000,000 via New York’s Blue Cross-Blue Shield, or over 4,000,000 via Scott Trade(2), as it did it did last year, it barely makes news. If it makes news at all. Truth is, if you give your Social Security number out to get your cable on, visited a clinic and gave personal information, or have used your credit or debit card to buy lunch, your information is out there in some company’s or government entity’s data base to be hacked or misused. It is just a question of when will it happen, and will you be prepared beforehand?.
According to The Identity Theft Resource Center, data breaches neared record heights in 2015(3), “For the first time since 2011 the business sector again topped the ITRC 2015 Breach List with nearly 40 percent of the breaches publicly reported in 2015, an increase of 8.1 percent from 2014 figures. In second place was the Health/Medical sector with 35.5 percent of the total overall breaches, a drop of 8.6 percent from a record high of 44.1 percent in 2014. The Banking/Credit/Financial sector ranked third with 9.1 percent of the breaches with nearly double the number of breaches reported in 2014, 71 and 38 respectively. This marks the first time that this industry has ranked in the top three. In fourth place was Government/Military with 8.1 percent followed by the Education sector with 7.4 percent” … “In 2015, Hacking incidents reached a nine-year high of 37.9 percent, a jump of 8.4 percent over 2014 figures. This was followed by the Employee Error/Negligence category at 14.9 percent, more than double the 7.2 percent first reported in 2012.” But what should be of most interest in the report is, “These numbers are by no means the whole story, as breaches have become the third certainty in life. Since 2005, ITRC has tracked 5,810 reported breaches. Many continue to fly under the radar because many businesses aim to avoid the financial dislocation, liability, and loss of goodwill that comes with disclosure and notification,” said Adam Levin, Chairman and Founder of IDT911. “It is safe to assume that the actual number of breaches is much higher than what is reported” … “We recognized 2014 as the year of the credit card breach; 2015 must be similarly recognized but as the year of the Social Security Number breach. The concerning trend here is that remediation of a compromised SSN remains a more arduous task for victims when compared to remediation of an individual credit card number,” said Velasquez. “The opportunities for thieves who possess Social Security Numbers are significantly greater and pose more consumer risk, not to mention more difficulty for the individual consumer when it comes to deployment of risk minimization techniques,” Velasquez [President and CEO, ITRC] added.”
ID theft has been the top crime for many years effecting approximately 5 MILLION Americans annually, and there is no sign of the trend soon abating. Let the truth be known, as far as the police are concerned it is not high priority. When someone other than the lawful accountholder pays into a Social Security account, via W2 tax filings, the Social Security Administration receives that many times more revenue for that account. And as for businesses who are hacked, they general offer those effected a temporary fix of credit monitoring, while credit and bank fraud accounted for just over a quarter of all ID thefts reported, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Center(4).
It is up to you and I to be proactive to protect ourselves from becoming a victim the best way possible. When your id does become compromised, you will have a system in place to greatly minimize the negative repercussions with a ID Theft Prevention AND Restoration Service that not only alerts you to potential irregularities regarding any facet of your identity – Social Security, Medical, DMV, Character, or Financial – but, also assists you in restoring your identity, and not just hands you a handbook or sends you out to navigate the stressful and time consuming task of doing it yourselves.