Ditch the Pitch
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Security breaches are practically commonplace in today’s digital age and South Carolina is no exception. New numbers from the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) show a spike in security breach notices with more than half a million South Carolinians affected in the past three months alone.
The numbers from security breach reports received July through October 2019 show that at least 595,344 SC consumers had their private information breached. Social security numbers, full name, date of birth, usernames, passwords, credit and debit card information are examples of data obtained in the breaches. This is a 316% increase from January through June 2019.
SCDCA urges consumers to stay alert in protecting their information by doing the following:
• Watch out for phishing attempts. Asking for personal or sensitive information via a phone call, text or email is a tactic used by scammers. A fraudster may even use information taken from breaches to make their request seem more convincing. Never reply to texts, pop-ups or emails that ask for verification of personal information. Avoid clicking on links or attachments from suspicious emails or texts.
• Closely monitor your credit report and financial statements/accounts. Check all monthly statements and account activity. You can obtain your FREE credit reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228. Review your statements and credit report for unauthorized purchases/accounts and suspicious items.
• Consider a fraud alert and security freeze. Prevent scammers from opening new accounts using your information by placing a FREE fraud alert and/or security freeze on your credit reports. A fraud alert tells a business accessing your report to take extra steps to verify that you are the one seeking its goods/services. When a security freeze is in place, no one can access your report without your OK. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place an alert and contact each of them to place a freeze: Equifax (800) 685-1111, Experian (888) 397-3742 and TransUnion (888) 909-8872.
For additional tips on how to protect your information in the wake of a breach, check out these tips on how to avoid identity theft or contact SCDCA’s Identity Theft Unit. The Unit is dedicated to offering consumers tailored guidance on identity theft issues.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free in SC: 1 (800) 922-1594.