Data Breaches and Consumers: What You Need to Know

Although data breaches seemed like a strange, obscure threat a few years ago, many consumers have now been impacted in some form or fashion by these events. Sometimes, the hardest part about protecting yourself from the fallout of a data breach is figuring out how to even know if you’ve been affected!

These cyber crimes are serious issues in the modern internet society. Whether you are signing up for a bank account in Palm Springs or a shopper loyalty program in New York City, you could be affected by these online threats. Here are a few ideas and strategies you should know so that you can protect yourself moving forward.

Defining a Data Breach

When you hear the term data breach, what do you think of? If words like ‘hacking’, ‘cyber crime’ or ‘identity theft’ come to mind, you’re definitely on the right track. Experts typically define a data breach as any type of cyber attack which leads to the release of personal, typically sensitive information.

The specific type of information released can vary considerably. For example, a data breach affecting a popular retailer may result in the release of information such as a customer’s address, phone number, loyalty card number, etc. Data breaches affecting banking institutions could lead to the unlawful release of social security numbers, bank account numbers, etc.

As you can see, data breaches can vary significantly in terms of their impact on you, the consumer. This is one of many factors which make assessing the potential damage from these incidents so difficult.

Data Breach vs. Identity Theft

The terms ‘data breach’ and ‘identity theft’ sometimes get mixed up. It is important to draw a distinction between these two ideas, because they are actually very different in terms of how they can impact you, the consumer.

When your identity is stolen, a thief has used either digital or “real world” information to access valuable resources, such as lines of credit. With that in mind, you can think of identity theft as the actual “use” of information gained through some form of a data breach. Just because your information has been compromised as part of a data breach does not necessarily mean it is being used by a criminal. With identity theft, however, your information has actually been deployed in an illegal fashion by another individual.

Strategies for Protecting Your Information

It is important to realize that any time you put your information in the internet, you are potentially exposing yourself to a data breach. For example, every time you register for an online account, you are creating an opportunity for a hacker to retrieve your information unlawfully. This does not mean that you should avoid the internet entirely, but you should be very selective about when and how you share your information. Credible websites will often provide consumers with information about their security and privacy policy so you can better understand how your information will be protected.

The best way to determine whether or not you have been impacted by a data breach is to stay current on the news. Companies are required by law to report these breaches and inform consumers that have been affected. This type of proactive approach will ensure that you stay one step ahead in the fight to protect your data!

Take a look at these related articles:

Data Breaches Threaten Consumer Rights

What Can You Do About the Equifax Data Breach?

Consumer Rights Protection in Palm Springs

Our firm has been handling personal injury and consumer rights cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

Learn more about the team of attorneys and legal experts at Walter Clark Legal Group.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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