Stealing a credit card number or even an entire identity is easy enough for criminals, but we make it exponentially easier around the holidays. The shopping madness of Black Friday causes people to be reckless when shopping at stores. Many people are not aware of the risks involved during holiday shopping and the people that are aware may not know what to do about it.
How Big of a Problem Is This?
A study in 2011 showed that stores reported 200 million shoppers on Black Friday that year. They were able to determine that 154 million of them were at risk of personal data theft. The report also showed:
- Only 21% of the brick and mortar stores were prepared to tell the customers about a data breach.
- 79% of customers affected by a data breach will not be notified.
Hackers and other identity thieves do not always target individuals. They target retailers. This is a much more efficient means of theft as retailers harbor millions of customer’s personal information including email address, phone number, credit card number, birth date, etc.
How to Know If Your Identity Was Stolen
The three main ways people discover their identity was stolen are:
- Personal proactive action – checking bank statements, credit reports, and charges consistently is a great way to keep an eye on the safety of your identity. Your credit report is a useful way to make sure no one has opened any accounts in your name.
- Retailer communication – responsible retailers will have a plan in place in the case of a data breach. You may receive a letter in the mail, a phone call, or an email containing details of the breach and the next steps to take.
- Debt collection correspondence – if an account is opened under your name and you are unaware, a debt may be sold to a collector as it is unlikely the thief is going to pay the bills they have created. You could start receiving phone calls, letters, or even a court summons.
Paying attention to your finances and credit report is the best way to make sure your efforts to protect yourself were effective.
If your finances are in ruin because a thief stole your personal data, you need the help of an experienced attorney. Elias Dsouza has been helping people with debt defense, credit restoration, and counseling for over 15 years. Contact Elias today for a free consultation.