The nation's largest bank, JP Morgan Chase, announced last week that hackers may have obtained the personal information of up to 76 million customers in a cyberattack this summer.
The bank denies that hackers were able to access account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, or birth dates, reports The Associated Press. The hackers were, however, able to gain access to customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses -- information that may be used to commit identity theft.
What Can Consumers Do?
Consumers whose information may have been compromised by the hackers should be vigilant in watching out for signs of potential identity theft. They should also be wary of potential attempts to use the information stolen from Chase to obtain even more sensitive personal information.
Among the methods used by scammers to obtain personal data include:
- Email phishing. Consumers should be wary of clicking on links or opening attachments included in emails from unfamiliar or suspicious addresses. Phishing scams are a common way for scammers to mine your personal information.
- Scam letters. Scammers may also use addresses obtained through the cyberattack to send phony letters to consumers. Letters informing you that you've won or prize from a contest you don't remember entering, or other correspondence that requests personal information, should raise a red flag.
- Phone scams. Hackers were also able to obtain the phone numbers of Chase customers, which means that scammers may resort to using phone calls or text messages to attempt to gather more personal information from consumers affected by the data breach.
May Increase Likelihood of Fraud
Chase is just the latest company to suffer a potentially harmful data breach. Last month, retailer Home Depot announced that payment data for up to 56 million customers may have been stolen by hackers.
With the rash of data breaches making your personal information available to scammers, consumers should be on the lookout for any suspicious activity when it comes to credit card accounts, including receiving credit cards for accounts that you never opened, or getting calls about purchases you didn't make. These may be signs that you have been a victim of fraud.
In addition, consumers may wish to get a copy of their credit report. The Free Credit Reporting Act allows consumers to obtain a free copy of their credit report once a year. Credit reports can be obtained online at the Annual Credit Report website, by calling (877) 322-8228, or by mailing Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
- JPMorgan Chase Hacking Affects 76 Million Households (The New York Times)
- Citi Breach: Bank Card Data Hacked (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Target Sued Over Customer Data Breach (FindLaw's Injured)
- Legal How-To: Checking Your Credit Report (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)