Shortly after the Thanksgiving rush, my daughters and I were watching the news broadcast about the data breach of payment information of 40 million holiday consumers. My number one favorite retailer, Target, was the target. My daughter said “Mom, I know your information has been stolen. You live at Target.” My reply was, “No, not this time! I didn’t shop at all during the Thanksgiving weekend.”
To my surprise, I received an e-mail notification from Target in late January informing me that my information had been stolen. Then I received a text message from Chase Bank asking if I was shopping in New York. Chase declined the transaction and promptly sent new bank cards to me without my request. I have always guarded my personal information pretty well. In fact, I considered myself an expert, so I was certain my information had not been stolen. I was wrong.
According to The New York Times, Target’s data breach affected more than 110 million people. During the fourth quarter, Target reported $61 million in pretax expenses relating to the breach and $44 million in insurance payments for a net cost of $17 million. This amount does not include the breach’s future costs which could include litigation, fraud claims, and investigative costs. Target’s profits were down 46 percent. Net earnings reported were $520 million versus the $941 million during the same period last year. Needless to say, this has been a blow to Target’s bottom line.
Identity theft and data breaches are scary and expensive for both individuals and businesses, but there are ways you can protect yourself. For the individual consumer, there are some basic precautions you can take. You can also ask your independent insurance agent about identity theft insurance coverage. Watch the video above to learn more about the coverage offered by Central.
And what about businesses? Breaches can happen to large and small businesses alike (as demonstrated by the Target breach), but small businesses are especially vulnerable because they often don’t have the resources to protect themselves or recover from a breach. Refer to our “Ten Ways to Prevent a Data Breach” tip sheet on our website, and then ask your agent for more information about data compromise and identity theft coverage.