In a recent study released this year by Javelin Strategy & Research, one in four data breach notification recipients became a victim of identity fraud. While data breaches can vary in the type of compromised information, each different data element can be used in committing particular types of fraud or the information may be sold on the black market, increasing the chance that the breached data may be misused at some point in the future.
"Identity theft protection is more than just protecting your financial information; it's also about protecting the other elements that help to define us as individuals -- name, address, Social Security number and date of birth," said Steve Schwartz, President of Identity Guard.
"When a consumer receives notice that any of their personally identifiable information may have been breached, they need to take these notices seriously. Personal information can be revealed across several different data sources and it's nearly impossible for consumers to monitor these on their own. We recommend they enroll in an identity monitoring program that will proactively monitor their personal information for them and send activity alerts," Schwartz added.
Identity Guard has put together some identity theft protection tips for consumers that may have been the target of a recent data breach:
Change your passwords. If you use the same password across multiple websites, immediately reset your password at each of those sites. Keeping in mind that each account should have its own unique password, made up of numbers, letters and symbols. Never use publicly available information as part of your password. And the longer a password is, the harder it is to guess.
Don't click on email links. Criminals will use phishing attempts to try to get you to disclose more personal information to help them further their attempts at committing potential identity fraud. Never open an email from an unknown sender and avoid downloading file attachments and clicking on embedded links.
Verify a website is safe. It's always best to type out a website address instead of clicking on a link from an email, no matter how legitimate the email may look. Before submitting any personal information, be sure the webpage address begins with 'https' and look for the closed padlock symbol either in the address bar or in the bottom of the screen which indicates a secure connection.
Monitor your financial statements. Even if your financial information was not part of the breach, be sure you monitor all of your financial documents for any suspicious activity and report it immediately as identity thieves could gain access to this information through other methods.
Enroll in an identity monitoring service. Monitoring all areas for potential identity exposure can be both timely and overwhelming.