Nearly Half a Billion Consumer Records Exposed in 2018

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The number of U.S. data breaches dropped 23% in 2018, while exposed consumer records jumped 126%, according to the 2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). In 2018, the ITRC recorded 1,244 U.S. breaches, down 23% from 2017, which saw an all-time high of 1,632 breaches.

The number of consumer records exposed that contained personally identifiable information (PII) more than doubled, from 197.6 million in 2017 to 446.5 million in 2018. And the ITRC reported another record of sorts, with 1.68 billion non-sensitive records—such as email addresses, usernames and passwords—exposed in 2018.

"The increased exposure of sensitive consumer data is serious," said Eva Velasquez, ITRC president and CEO, in a company press release. "Never has there been more information out there putting consumers in harm's way."

The business industry recorded the highest number of data breaches but had the lowest rate of exposure per breach. The medical/healthcare industry had the second-largest amount of breaches in 2018, along with the highest rate of exposure per breach. The report also found that hacking was the most common form of data breach in 2018, totaling 482 data breaches and exposing 16.7 million consumer records.

Stay Safe by Protecting Your Identity

If you think you are a victim of identity theft, you should check your free Experian credit report for errors or suspicious accounts. Run a free dark web scan as well to find out whether information like your Social Security number, phone number or email addresses are on the dark web.

If you want a measure in place preventing people from accessing your credit reports, you can freeze your credit reports for free. This prevents hackers from accessing your reports and lenders from issuing new credit in your name.

Another option to consider is placing a lock on your report using Experian CreditLock, a benefit offered by Experian's CreditWorksSM and IdentityWorksSM products, that:

  • Allows you to easily lock or unlock your report in real time, with no waiting period.
  • Provides daily monitoring of your credit file, which means you will be alerted about any key changes, including new account openings.
  • Provides up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. If you become a victim of identity theft, you can be covered for the unreimbursed costs of restoring your identity, like fraudulent electronic fund transfers, lost wages, legal fees and travel expenses.
  • Gives you access to your Experian credit report and FICO® Score , along with all the other benefits of Experian membership, such as dark web monitoring, which lets you know if your information is found on the dark web.

You may also want to take time to learn more about how to stay ahead of any future identity theft issues and how to protect your personal information along with what to do after a data breach.