500 Million Sensitive Records Breached Since 2005


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Copyright © 2010-2014
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Posted August 26, 2010

The most recent total from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Chronology of Data Breaches shows more than a half billion sensitive records breached since 2005, leaving Americans vulnerable to identity theft.

Employees losing laptop computers, hackers downloading credit card numbers and sensitive personal data accidentally exposed online -- the Chronology of Data Breaches shows hundreds of ways that the personal information of consumers is lost, stolen or exposed.

The Chronology of Data Breaches, a project of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse since 2005, lists incidents involving breached consumer information, such as personal medical records, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers. The most recent total, published August 24, 2010, is a wake-up call to consumers who think identity theft can’t happen to them. 

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse estimates that the Chronology shows only a fraction of the total number of data breaches.

"This is a conservative number," says Director Beth Givens, "We generally learn about breaches that garner media attention.Unfortunately, many do not.  And, because many states do not require companies to report data breaches to a central clearinghouse, data breaches occur that we never hear about. Our Chronology is only a sampling."

Data breaches of sensitive information, especially Social Security and credit card numbers, make consumers vulnerable to identity theft. According to a 2009 Javelin Research & Strategy, individuals are four times more likely to be the victim of identity theft in the year after receiving a data breach notification letter.

The recently expanded Chronology provides consumers and researchers the ability to perform rapid searches to identify trends in data breaches.  It also allows visitors to look up businesses, agencies and organizations by name.

Unfortunately, consumers cannot completely protect themselves from a data breach.  It is up to organizations that collect data on consumers to take the steps to ensure the privacy and security of the data they collect and maintain.


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