Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – July 26, 2013 – In a recent data breach, five hackers from Russia and Ukraine were charged with stealing 160 million credit card numbers over a seven year timeframe. According to the U.S. Attorneys’ office of New Jersey, this is the largest such scheme prosecuted in the U.S. This scheme, resulting in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars, targeted computer networks of major retailers, payment processors and financial institutions from around the world.
“It is important for both consumers and businesses to remain vigilant in securing their sensitive information and financial records, especially when considering the technological expertise and sophisticated tactics used by many of today’s scammers,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “By taking a proactive stance on data protection, you stand a better chance of avoiding data breaches, as well as limiting the extent of damages if such fraudulent activity were to occur.”
Per information obtained by law enforcement, the hackers targeted victim companies for many months and had implanted malware on company servers for over a year. After obtaining the stolen data, it was allegedly sold to resellers around the world for a profit, resulting in identity theft and false charges against consumers.
Your BBB offers the following tips to consumers regarding ways to keep your identity secure:
- Regularly monitor bank and credit card statements for fraudulent activity. Know what dates your bills arrive each month or are available to view online. Keep in mind that late or missing bills can indicate your information has been compromised.
- Check your credit reports on an annual basis. Consumers are entitled to receive one free credit report per year from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or contact 877.322.8228 to request your free annual credit report.
- Keep in mind that canceling your credit cards or accounts may stop imposters from using your existing accounts, but it does not stop them from opening new accounts under your name. To prevent this from occurring, if your information may have been misused by an unauthorized party, contact the fraud departments of Experian, TransUnion and Equifax and ask them to flag your file as one belonging to a possible fraud victim. This warning will include a statement that creditors should call to get your permission before approving new credit cards or loans in your name.
- If you suspect that your mail is being diverted to another address, check with your local post office to see whether an unauthorized change of address has been filed under your name.
- Before doing business with a company, check out its BBB business review, and use a secure browser if you are providing credit card or other sensitive information online. In the address window of your browser, check to see that the first part of the company’s web address changes from “http://” to https://. Using a secure browser helps to ensure the safety of your personal data when it is being transmitted to a company’s computers.
Visit www.bbb.org for additional BBB tips on protecting your identity.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4.5 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.