Another Day, Another Data Breach

R.O.S.E., Resources/Outreach to Safeguard the Elderly

In today’s digital age, data breaches are becoming increasingly common, leaving consumers vulnerable to identity theft. In one of the largest, most recent breaches, AT&T exposed 73 million passwords. While the vast majority were former customers (before 2019), it’s estimated that over 7-1/2 million were current customers.

While there’s not much you can do to prevent your identity from being stolen from a company database, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself if, and when, your information is stolen in a data breach. Act now, even if you don’t know your data has been compromised.

The most important step is to “freeze” your credit file. This will prevent unauthorized individuals from opening new accounts in your name. Contact Experian, Equifax, and Transunion at their respective websites and search for “credit freeze.” You can continue using your credit card, but it does stop anyone, including you, from opening a new credit card, loan, or any other credit account in your name. It’s recommended to place a freeze at each credit bureau.

You should request an Identity Protection Pin from the IRS via their website. This requires the taxpayer to submit the PIN with any tax return thereby ensuring no one can file a return in your name.

Monitor your accounts regularly for suspicious activity. This includes reviewing bank and credit card statements for unfamiliar transactions and keeping an eye on your credit reports for any new accounts opened without your authorization. Many financial institutions offer online account access and credit monitoring services, making it easier to stay vigilant against potential identity theft.

To help prevent identity theft, be cautious when sharing personal information online or over the phone. Scammers often use phishing emails and phone calls to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information. Never give out personal or financial information unless you are certain of the recipient’s identity and legitimacy. Any doubt? do not share the information.

It’s a good time to strengthen your online security. This includes using strong, unique passwords for each online account and enabling two-factor authentication whenever possible. Consider using a password manager.

Regularly updating security software, and being cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments can help prevent falling victim to malware and other cyber threats.

Consider enrolling in identity theft protection services offered by reputable companies. This can provide added layers of security and assistance in the event of identity theft. Shop around to see if there’s one that’s right for you.

Data breaches pose a serious threat but take steps to protect yourself. By putting a credit freeze in place, monitoring your accounts, cautious with personal information, strengthening online security measures, and considering identity theft protection services, you can minimize the risk of identity theft and safeguard your financial well-being.

R.O.S.E. seeks to create change by educating and providing awareness of financial scams that target the older adult population. For more information and resources, visit, email us at [email protected], or call us at 602-445-7673.