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Security Breaches

Individuals need to know when there is a breach to the security of their sensitive personal information such as a Social Security number, government identification number, payment card information, or account number which provides access to finances or to financial information. With notice consumers can take the necessary steps to prevent or detect identity theft. Consumers Union supports laws that require consumers be notified of a breach when it occurs. This requirement creates incentive for both companies and government agencies to work to prevent future security breaches.

Publications

  • Consumers Union testimony on the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2010

    Statement of IOANA RUSU Policy counsel Consumers Union Before the U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION Regarding DATA SECURITY AND BREACH NOTIFICATION ACT OF 2010 September 22, 2010

  • Support for the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2009

    According to a 2007 FTC study, 8.3 million U.S. adults become victims of ID theft each year.

  • GAO Testimony on Identity Theft before the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives

    GAO was asked to testify on how the loss of personally identifiable information contributes to identity theft. This testimony summarizes (1) the problem of identity theft; (2) steps taken at the federal, state, and local level to prevent potential identity theft; and (3) vulnerabilities that remain to protecting personally identifiable information, including in federal information systems.

  • Identity Theft

    Was your personal information stolen and used fraudulently?

  • Model State Clean Credit and Identity Theft Protection Act

    The State Clean Credit and Identity Theft Protection Act offers specific, workable provisions that state legislatures can adopt to reduce the risk of identity theft and to give consumers tools to prevent some of the harm from identity theft. The model law offers types of protections and of these that have actually been adopted by state legislatures. This model law was prepared by CU and the State PIRGs.

  • Social Security Number

    The widespread use, sale, purchase, display and solicitation of social security numbers makes consumers significantly more vulnerable to identity theft. Consumers Union provides recommendations for policy improvements to mitigate the risks created by widespread use and trade in consumers’ SSNs.

  • Security Breaches

    Individuals need to know when there is a breach to the security of their sensitive personal information such as a Social Security number, government identification number, payment card information, or account number which provides access to finances or to financial information. With notice consumers can take the necessary steps to prevent or detect identity theft. Consumers Union supports laws that require consumers be notified of a breach when it occurs. This requirement creates incentive for both companies and government agencies to work to prevent future security breaches.

  • Fact Sheet about ID Theft

    Over 261,891,160 records containing personal and financial information were involved in security breaches announced from January 2005 to June 2009.

  • CU letters support federal bill to remove from newly issued Medicare cards
  • CU’s guide to security freeze protection

    When a security freeze is in place, an identity thief cannot open a new account because the potential creditor or seller of services will not be able to check the credit file.

Press Releases

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Blog Posts

  • Data Breaches Driving You Crazy? California DMV gives consumers new reason to worry.

    Uh, oh. It’s happened again: another data breach. Consumers who used the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) online credit card payment system may find their credit card information is at risk. The California DMV’s Public Information Officer, Armando Botello, says that the DMV was “alerted by law enforcement authorities to a potential security issue Continue Reading

  • Worried About the Target Breach? The CFPB Has Some Tips

    As the fallout from the Target data breach continues (along with Neiman Marcus and Michael’s), many consumers are wondering what, if anything, they can do to protect themselves from fraud and identity theft.  Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a “consumer advisory” with basic tips on how to keep your information safe. So Continue Reading

  • Transaction Monitoring and Credit Monitoring in Light of the Target Breach

    Target has begun to offer security breach victims free credit monitoring for a year now that approximately 110 million Americans may have had their data compromised due to a security breach. We’ve advised consumers to conduct regular transaction monitoring to prevent fraud, and now some consumers have been asking us, “What’s the difference between transaction Continue Reading

  • Scam Bam, No Thank You Ma’am: How to Avoid Being Scammed after the Target Security Breach

    by guest blogger Caitlin Watkins In the wake of the Target security breach, there are a number of scams that are popping up. These scams try to gather consumer’s personal and credit information. This is adding to insult to injury, as we also just found out that the initial 40 million Target customers affected by Continue Reading

  • Off Target: What to Do If Your Information Is in Peril

    by guest blogger Caitlin Watkins Are you one of the 40 million Americans who had their debit or credit information stolen in the recent Target security breach?  If you shopped at any Target store from November 27 to December 15th and used a credit or debit card, you are mostly likely very concerned about your Continue Reading

  • ID Theft Alert: Digital Copiers

    CBS ran a story about what they found on four digital copiers.

  • Do you know where your SSN is?

    SSN PolaroidIt’s time to get Social Security numbers off the Internet, out of our wallets, and out of our mail.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held public a workshop on Security Numbers (SSN) in Washington, DC on Monday and Tuesday, December 10 and 11, 2007.

  • Consumer Reports Poll Finds 89% of Americans Want Lawmakers to Restrict the Use of SSNs

    If you’ve been concerned about the widespread use of your SSN, you’re not alone. A recent Consumer Reports Poll has found that 89 Percent of Americans Want Lawmakers to Restrict the Use of Social Security Numbers, and that Americans are routinely asked for Social Security Numbers by businesses
    and government agencies, fueling concerns about identity theft.

  • SSN State Laws Issue Paper
  • Who should decide if you get notice of a security breach?

    The federal Government Accountability Office issued a report today entitled: Personal Information Data Breaches are Frequent, but Evidence of Resulting Identity Theft is Limited; However, the Full Extent Is Unknown. It has some troubling language suggesting a limitation on notice of security breaches based on some kind of a risk standard, such as whether misuse is reasonably possible.—which means you won’t always be told when your information has been lost or stolen.

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News Articles

  • Phony IRS email identity theft scam
    Source: Kansas City Online (Monday November 12, 2007)

    The e-mail asks recipients for personal financial information such as Social Security numbers and debit card information

  • ID theft task force recommends tougher laws
    Source: Computerworld (Monday April 23, 2007)

    White House panel backs national law enforcement effort, less use of Social Security numbers by government agencies.

  • Security breach fallout reaches 200,000 debit card holders
    Source: San Francisco Chronicle (Friday February 10, 2006)

    Companies are still hiding their data security breaches despite law’s intent to bring accountability

  • ID theft – Bank finds a way to profit
    Source: San Francisco Chronicle (Friday July 22, 2005)

    Data security breaches at Wells Fargo have put hundreds of thousands of customers at risk of identity theft. Now the bank has found a way to profit from the problem.

  • Feds lag on ID theft notification
    Source: CBS News (Tuesday June 28, 2005)

    While California requires companies to notify consumers about data security breaches and an increasing number of states are passing similar laws, Congress still hasn’t enacted a federal notice requirement.

  • 40 million credit cards hacked
    Source: CNN (Friday June 17, 2005)

    Over 40 million card accounts were exposed to potential fraud due to a security breach that occurred at a third-party processor of payment card transactions.

  • Is your personal data next?
    Source: MSNBC (Monday April 4, 2005)

    The recent rash of data security breaches has put an estimated two million Americans at risk of identity theft and underscored the need for stronger consumer safeguards.

  • Social Security numbers widely available
    Source: Washington Post (Sunday April 3, 2005)

    Despite public outcry over recent identity theft scandals, Social Security numbers remain widely available to would-be crooks.