With data breaches on rise, vigilance is urged

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the list of companies suffering data breaches and virus attacks continues to grow, local consumer protection experts are urging customers to be more pro-active in safeguarding their bank accounts.

This week, officials with more than 50 UPS stores admitted their computers had been attacked by a malware virus that may have exposed customer information over the last seven months. Although the company insists its systems are now secure, the problems are getting worse nationwide.

“We are getting three and four reports a week on this,” Mahoning County Sheriff’s Deputy Pat Mondora said.

Mondora said while authorities are often able to trace locally-generated cases of identity theft, it is much harder to nab those hacking from outside Ohio.

“We’ll contact that state. That local agency, nine times out of 10, it does not meet the dollar amount that they are going to follow up on,” he said.

Directors with the local Better Business Bureau office in Youngstown said there are ways to make it harder for hackers to get through.

“We need to be daily on top of our accounts and be very vigilant with passwords. Use strong passwords. Don’t use any words. Use a different password for every site and change them,” Carol Potter with the Better Business Bureau said. “This is why you have to be vigilant. And this is why you really need to look at your account as a cookie jar. Would you put that somewhere and not check it every night to see if your money is still in there?”

Experts said customers who have been victimized should immediately contact their banks and credit card companies, as well as placing a fraud alert with credit reporting agencies to stop unauthorized purchases from occurring.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft, click here. For information on what to do if you already have been the victim of identity theft, click here.

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