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Ask tough questions and freeze your credit to defend against ID theft and data breaches

The Identity Theft Resource Center expects 2023 to set a record for data breaches, local cyber expert urges consumers to take steps to protect themselves now.
Ask tough questions and freeze your credit to defend against ID theft and data breaches
Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 09, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s a notification many of us have seen this year, a company we do business with was hit by a cyberattack and our sensitive information has been exposed. Experts tracking the trend say we’re on a record setting pace for data breaches in the U.S. and there are steps we should take to stay safe.

”We will absolutely eclipse the all-time record that we hit in 2021," said Identity Theft Resource Center President Eva Velasquez. "We’re going to exceed that this year. That’s a known fact. It’s happening.”

Popular brands like Apple, Twitter, and Forever 21 are just a few of the companies who have reported data breaches this year.

News5 asked Velasquez what important step people should take if they are notified their information was compromised in a recent data breach.

”Freezing your credit really is the gold standard. That’s something you can do yourself. It doesn’t cost you anything and the process has become quite simple,” said Velasquez.

Here is a report we did to help you take those steps

”Data is money and all of this crime is financial,” said Rodney Gullatte Jr., a certified ethical hacker and cybersecurity professional in the Pikes Peak Region.

He’s concerned about how discouraged people have become locally after all the reported data breaches this year, but urges us not to accept defeat when it comes to our sensitive information.

”There are cyberattacks, new ones happening every minute. So yeah, your stuff may have been exposed in the past, but stop the bleeding now. Protect your accounts now,” said Gullatte Jr.

He says now is the time to ask companies you do business with how they are protecting your sensitive information. He says the only way companies change is if customers demand that they do it.

”The only way to force them to do it is to ask them how they are doing it and if they are not taking care of your information leave them. Leave them," said Gullate Jr. "Go find somebody else that is actually doing it and there are companies out there and I know of them who are taking care of your information and being responsible with it.”

Consumers can also call on lawmakers to develop stronger policies and laws to hold both government and private companies accountable for managing our sensitive information. Gullate Jr. is partnering with the National Cybersecurity Center to try to help policymakers understand.

”To understand the pieces that they can control to help protect us as citizens is super important,” said Gullate Jr.

Two more steps that you can take right now to protect your online accounts from someone who may have gotten their hands on your sensitive information is to set up two factor authentication and to make sure to use strong passwords across your accounts.

If you need some help protecting your credit and identity from the criminals you can always reach out to the ITRC at https://www.idtheftcenter.org/or by calling its hotline at 1(888) 400-5530

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