Data Breaches

When it happens, your personal information can end up in the hands of an identity thief or for sale on a black market website to the highest bidder. And if you're like may people, the password used on the site that suffered the data breach may be the same password you use on many sites, so a breach on one site can expose many of your accounts.

How Do Data Breaches Occur?

Banks, schools, doctor’s offices, and retail companies all collect and store sensitive and/or financial information about their customers and employees. In some instances, this information is simply mishandled, either in an errant email or a misplaced storage device like a laptop or hard drive. Other times the data is stolen by hackers who infiltrate servers with the specific purpose of obtaining private data.

What Is the Cost of a Data Breach?

Studies show that individuals who receive a data breach notification letter are more than four times as likely to become victims of identity theft. In addition, average out-of-pocket costs are over 200% higher for victims of data breach.

Information thieves can collect:

  • Email addresses
  • Street addresses
  • Social Security numbers
  • Credit Card or bank
    account numbers
  • Health information

What thieves can do with this information:

  • Identity theft
  • Employment-related fraud
  • Loan fraud/payday loan fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Benefits fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Other identity fraud

Data Breach Statistics:

  • 7% of U.S. consumers received a
    data breach notification in 2010.
  • Data breach victims spend an
    average of 41 hours on resolution.
  • Total breaches in 2010: 662 
  • Total number of records exposed
    in 2010: 16,167,542 

1 Javelin Strategy & Research. "2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report." February 2011. 
2 Identity Theft Resource Center. “2010 ITRC Breach Report.” December 29, 2010.

† Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For
January – December 2011.” February 2012.

† Javelin Strategy & Research. "2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming
the New Fraud Frontier." February 2012.