Before the Aftermath: The Importance of Identity Protection in the Age of the Data Breach

By Generali Global Assistance

“Dear valued customer, we regret to inform you that your personal information may have been compromised. We are providing this notice and outlining some steps you may take to protect yourself and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or concern this may cause.”

The majority of consumers have personally been victims of a data breach, or know someone who has been affected—with most on the receiving end of a letter containing similar language as in the above. Data breaches are rampant throughout every conceivable industry—retail, financial, education, healthcare and government—touching nearly all aspects of everyday life. After all, everyday life for many people includes shopping for groceries, paying bills, going to school, or visiting a doctor. This means that the odds are not exactly in our favor for avoiding a data breach on any given day.

This white paper from Generali Global Assistance (GGA) explores the chronology of a data breach, focusing on its impact to consumers, what (if any) restitution they can expect, and how credit monitoring alone fails to effectively secure personally identifiable information (PII) in the aftermath.

Consumers recall all too well when retail giant Target reported a massive breach that occurred at their stores between November 27 and December 15, 2013. With the frenzy of holiday shopping in full swing, this couldn’t come at a worse time for Target or its customers. Nearly 40 million customer records were stolen that included credit and debit card data, and 70 million shoppers had personal information compromised that included their names, addresses and phone numbers.

Unfortunately, data breaches are the “new normal” and likely will be for the foreseeable future. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reports that in 2015, there were 781 tracked data breaches in the U.S. – the second highest year on record since 2005, when the ITRC began tracking breaches. This number could even be under-inflated as it doesn’t include other data breaches that may have gone undetected or unreported. GGA’s internal data shows that the number of customers affected by data breaches has increased over 40% every year since 2011.