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Data Hacks Hit Close to Home

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Identity Thief

Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman star in ‘Identity Thief.’

United Parcel Service and the parent company of Tomball Regional Medical Center both say their customers’ personal information may have been–or was–compromised within the past several months.

UPS said customers’ name and address information and credit and debit card data was acquired by malware that current anti-malware protections cannot guard against. The security breach occurred at 52 UPS Stores in 24 states, including Texas.

Community Health Systems said 4.5-million patient records were hacked by digital crooks from China, affecting HIPAA-protected information going back five years.

Houston Better Business Bureau President Dan Parsons said this is the new normal. “Data breaches are the wave of the future; they’re gonna happen,” he said.

“The technology we have does not often interface well between vendor, between merchant, between institution, between the financial clearing house, allows for this.”

Parsons said the chilling reality is, you never know when your stolen information will be used. “Here’s a little urban-myth: It doesn’t really matter a whole lot about the time line that’s announced,” he said. The crooks know the information they’ve just stolen is “hot.” “Here’s another urban-myth,” he said.

“When these big things happen, these big announcements, the real danger is not really right now–cause the news is out.”

So the bad guys are going to hold tight.

“Real good identity thieves are going to sit on this data…for a year…two years,” he said.

By then, “everyone’s forgotten about it. They still have it,” Parsons said.

“If you haven’t gone in, done a monitoring, looked for any activity–what do you think they’re going to do, exactly 2-years from today??”

Parsons said to follow exactly the instructions that are issued from the institutions affected. Neither United Parcel Service or Community Health Systems have issued directives to date. Calls to Tomball Regional and CHS have not been returned.

“Yes, you should be concerned, and the institutions that have been hit by this, generally, are going to bend over backwards,” he said.

“Everybody who gets a physical every year, and has their car checked every couple times a year, should be looking at their Credit Report at least once a year anyway,” Parsons said.

If you’re not checking your records regularly, and the bad guys strike, “They’re going to go in and have a field day, cause you’re not having your attention on it,” Parsons said.

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