It was announced on April 1st that Epsilon Data Management, LLC. experienced a breach of security on March 30th in which a ‘subset’ of Epsilon clients’ customer data were exposed by an unauthorized entry into Epsilon’s email system.” They go on to explain that this subset represents only approximately 2 percent of their total database that might have been compromised. However by some industry insider assessments that amount could easily still reach into the Millions of people.
What exactly was lost and what’s at risk? If you are or have ever been a customer of such companies as: Kroger Supermarkets, Best Buy, Brookstone, Walgreens, Disney, Home Shopping Network, Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, CITI, US Bank, Ameriprise Financial, and let’s be honest…who hasn’t used one of those companies at some point in the last 10 years….you may have lost your email address to the “cloud.” I surely don’t believe in being an alarmist because the worst-case scenario is that you get a ton of unsolicited email offers, but depending on your technological savvy it could be worse.
The biggest risk at having all this data on you stolen and used by a nameless faceless spam machine, most likely in some other company is the “duh-factor.” First of all, most all financial service companies, mine included, have always told you that you will never be asked by email for to confirm your logon information, your account passwords, or sensitive financial information such as credit card or checking account numbers. However, inevitably someone still gets sucked in by this ruse. This is known as “Phishing” and I’m sure you’ve heard the term before. Steve Ragan from the TechHerald.com teaches us that “Phishing gets its name because criminals blast the same message to thousands of people in the hope that one of them will take the bait. Think of it as tossing a wide net into a body of water where fish swim. Cast the net enough times and, eventually, you’ll get some fish.
Therefore here are some things you should be “on the watch” for in the coming weeks or months:
- Any email coming from a company you’ve done business with asking you to confirm any of your personal information
- Any email asking you to click a link that takes you to a site that seems familiar to you. The key here is to look closely at the domain URL. If it says www.chase.com then most likely this is trustworthy. However a site like www.efin.chase.com is NOT. Look at the word immediately following the www. and if it’s not the company it purports to be…get outta there!
- Also evaluate the origin of any email you receive because often crooks play the same game with their emails: (ie- “email@example.com” is probably okay, but “firstname.lastname@example.org” is probably a trap) You can see that the domain was alright when it was “@bestbuy.com” but when it’s been modified like “@bestbuyaccounts.com” that’s a scam.
- When in doubt, either mark the email as spam or delete it, OR you can call the company in question to verify if it’s actually from them.
- If you receive a piece of email you are certain is fraudulent feel free to forward it to the CIA because they are investing this Epsilon leak too; the established email is: email@example.com
After all is said and done, there really isn’t any reason to panic, however it’s a bit disconcerting to have your name and email address now in the hands of “who knows” what kind of organization. But if you are smart, the worst damage they can do is fill your in-box with a bunch of spam. And if you recognize it…you’ll be fine. If necessary you can always abandon that email address an establish a NEW one, leaving the old one as your repository for spam forever….hopefully.
If you have questions about privacy and financial security in an online environment please feel free to contact me. Also if you wish to stay updated on what kinds of things matter to YOU please follow my blog and join my Facebook site: Idaho Insurance
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