How to prepare for the next Equifax-type data theft

Personal Finance

Tami Chappell | Reuters

Credit reporting company Equifax corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, September 8, 2017.

Even without a reliable answer there, the outlook isn’t good for consumers worried about keeping their personal details safe.

Data breaches reached an all-time high in 2016, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, and during the first half of 2017, were up 29 percent from the same period last year. As of Sept. 5, two days before Equifax divulged its breach, there have been 975 data breaches this year, exposing nearly 19.4 million records, according to the ITRC.

As data breaches become more prevalent, it’s more important to take proactive steps to protect yourself instead of reacting to individual incidents, said Ryan O’Leary, vice president of the Treat Research Center at WhiteHat Security. (See infographic below.) By the time you hear about a breach, it’s too late to keep thieves from using that data.

You can’t control how companies protect your data, so try to limit what data companies have, Givens said. Pause before you share sensitive personal information like your Social Security number, even when it’s a legit entity asking — say, your doctor’s office, a financial advisor or your child’s school.

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