It can be difficult to stop your eyes from glazing over when you learn about yet another data breach. All things considered, there is been a constant flow of bad news from Target, Home Depot and P.F. Chang’s, to name a few.

But to provide you with a sense of exactly how serious the issue has become, the California Attorney General’s Office has released a brand new report revealing that 18.5 million Californians had private information stolen in 2013, a 600 percent increase from the previous year.

data breachMany people are susceptible. Choose Michael Collins, who is spent 25 years working in law enforcement. Collins was a casualty of the Target data breach. Collins spent months coping with phone calls, credit card firms, credit freezes and police reports .

In accordance with Collins, his ordeal started using an easy e-mail alarm. When Collins called the firm, “I learned that on December 19th and 20th over two dozen credit accounts were applied for — many successfully — at various large scale retailers.”

Wells Fargo counseled him to contact among the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion or Equifax — to activate a credit alarm. Next came a credit halt the credit reporting agencies at each.

And then there clearly was the job of notifying each retailer of the fraud. In accordance with Collins, “For every episode of ID theft the retailers wanted a duplicate of my initial police report (which recorded all of the retailers changed), along with the affidavit attesting to the fact I’d not started or tried to start an account with them. It took me until mid-to-late January to get all of the paperwork to every one of the retailers because every week new credit cards would arrive in the post and I’d learn of yet another retailer with whom credit was applied for in my name.”

Collins spent tons of hours of his own time sorting the wreck out. While the California Attorney General’s report says that 18.5 million individuals had their information compromised, it doesn’t detail how many ended up, like Collins, as casualties of fraud.

The report emphasizes the present risk of shopping using a debit or credit card, as 84 percent of information pilfering occurred at retailers. Activity is wanted by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“The fight against such cybercrimes demands using advanced strategies by government as well as the private sector to safeguard our state’s consumers and companies,” Harris said in a prepared statement. “Harris firmly support more utilization of encryption to significantly decrease the chance of data infractions.”

The report makes two to the legislature to safeguard consumers and help companies pay for added security as well as other organizations to avoid future violations, and 10 special recommendations to companies.

For companies, encryption technology exists to thwart offenders — it is an issue of embracing the technology. In accordance with Data Breach Study in the Ponemon Institute’s 2014 World-Wide Price, firms must spend to make needed improvements that can protect consumers.

As for consumers, these measures are recommended by the California report:

  • Track your credit and debit card accounts and report any issues to the card-issuing bank. Request the bank for alerts and on-line tracking on the card account.
  • If a data breach notice says health plan amount or your health insurance was called for, get in touch with your insurance company or strategy and question them to note the violation within their records also to flag your account number.
  • If a data breach notice calls for user ID or your password, shift both for that account and any accounts including the exact same advice.
  • Enable identity theft protection on your credit card accounts and any other accounts that offer them or sign up for a plan.

 

But as Michael Collins found out, being alert does not consistently prevent fraud. Throughout the weeks it took the credit card firms to inquire the fake accounts, “I’d receive several phone calls weekly from collection agencies looking to get me to pay costs in the different cards. Sometimes it bordered on flatout harassment.”

Collins continues to shop at Target. With cash. And his credit is frozen.