Report warns of increasing frequency of data breaches as 2019 sees 17 percent spike


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A new report warns that data breaches are growing and are affecting tens of millions of people.

The good news is that there are always ways to protect personal information.

“Data breaches are the most common form of loss of information,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

Last year was the worst. The Identity Theft Resource Center said data breaches increased 17 percent in 2019. Nationally, 1,500 data breaches occurred. They saw personal information stolen from not only private websites, but also from government organizations, the center said.

“My information was compromised in a data breach and someone filed taxes in my name trying to claim a refund,” Stein said.

Poor security can be blamed for these breaches, the Identity Theft Resource Center said.

“A number of large organizations simply failed to add a password to protect cloud-based data,” it said.

That’s a threat to everyone’s security. In North Carolina, when a data breach happens, state law requires the company to notify the attorney general’s office “without unreasonable delay.”

The attorney general said laws needs to be tougher. He’s backing a bill that would require stricter timelines on reporting those breaches.

“The idea is to put a duty on companies to safeguard our information. And then, when these beaches occur give us notice as early as possible,” he said.

Stein hopes the General Assembly will pass the bill by the summer.

Experts agree that a credit freeze is the best way to protect victims of a data breach. The attorney general’s office has a guide for how to request a freeze from each of the three major credit reporting companies. It also offers detailed information on what a credit freeze is, how it works, and how to temporarily or permanently remove that freeze.

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