Message from the Board Chair

Never mind what’s in your wallet, who is in your personal data?

US Department of Justice, the IRS, Snapchat, Wendys, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and University of Central Florida all have one thing in common – in 2016 they have all been the target of hackers which have left millions of consumers the victims of identity theft.  The Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics has been measuring this burgeoning epidemic since 2005.  With the dawn of our new information age, the risk of identity theft to organizations, businesses and individuals has grown exponentially.  The Insurance Information Institute’s most recent report on Identity Theft and Cybercrime estimates that in the past six years identity thieves have stolen over $112 billion.  In 2015 alone $15 billion was stolen from 13.1 million US consumers. 

While technology advances, such as microchip technology in credit cards, attempt to address one type of fraud, the criminals simply focus on an ever increasing number of scams and work arounds designed to part consumers from their money.   And while it isn’t bad enough that the thieves are making off with billions each year in this country alone, the use of the data they steal impacts not just your wallet, but can have serious implications the security and future, of you and your business.  The scams these thieves use are targeted not just at individual consumers, but at the companies who serve those consumers as highlighted in the first line of this article.   

The good news is that you can proactively manage this risk.  In order to protect yourself and your business, it is helpful to know what the risk factors are for identity theft, the full extent of the impact of such an event, and what you can do to make your data (and that of your customers) as secure as possible.  Before covering such a vast topic, I’d like to leave you with some food for thought, courtesy of the Identity Theft Resource Center.  They cite five (5) universal rules in dealing with requests for personal information:1.  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.2.  A bank, credit card company, or utility company will never ask for your personal information by email.3. Never give out personal information on calls/emails/texts that you didn’t initiate.4.  Before clicking on any links within emails or text messages, be sure to confirm the sender is legitimate.5.  Always be on the lookout for bad English and grammatical errors. Next month my article will explore personal and business practices that could put you at risk for a data breach.

Sheron Alves Bass
Bass Law Group
Board Chair