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Data Breaches Went Down in Early 2020 – But Did Fraud?
July 21, 2020
Breach Clarity partner the Identity Theft Resource Center recently reported that the first quarter of 2020 saw fewer data breaches. At first blush, this is good news. But before celebrating, we need to look deeper at what this means for the identity theft, scams, and fraud that plagues consumers and financial institutions.
Hand holding credit card at a computer due to a potential data breach

The important question we must ask is, “Does a decrease in breaches mean a decrease in fraud?”

Here is something we know for sure. When new data breaches go through a period of decline, previously breached data takes on increased value for cybercriminals. A contraction in supply for new breached data means identity criminals have to rely more on existing inventory. Unfortunately, even if no new breaches happened for the rest of the year, consumers will still experience fraud as a result of past data breaches.

This is where it becomes important to understand exactly *what* information data breaches expose.

(Search past data breaches using our tool to understand the risks of each one.)

First, we must counteract the myth that “everyone’s data is already out there” because there have been so many data breaches. This gets repeated all the time by pundits, and has even gotten some traction within the financial community. But, it’s not true and it’s a damaging idea, because it prevents people from taking protective action.

It is accurate to say that nearly everyone has experienced a data breach, and will continue to be breached. But, it can be proven that the totality of an individual’s personal data needed for identity crimes is never completely findable on the dark web. I know this with a high degree of certainty from my work as an expert witness in several high-profile data breach cases. If you’re interested in exploring this yourself, you can peruse the public records for cases like Anthem and Yahoo.

So how do you know what specific data has been exposed for any one individual? And more importantly, how can you know what any individual’s pattern of exposed data means for their risks of identity crimes?

After years of exposure to this very problem, we created Breach Clarity to solve it. We take data from publicly reported data breaches and intelligence from the dark web and combine with our patent-pending AI algorithm to:

  • Give individuals and their financial institutions a summary of their total personal data exposure in up to 80 categories.
  • Predict which risks an individual uniquely faces, such as credit card fraud, credit account origination, tax fraud, medical ID theft, etc.
  • Prescribe the specific action steps the individual and financial institution should take to protect them both from fraud, financial losses, and stress.

Here’s what we think are the key takeaways from information that shows data breaches on the decline:

  1. Decreasing data breaches don’t translate directly to decreased fraud.
  2. There is a long shelf-life for exposed personal data.
  3. Consumers and financial institutions must continue to be vigilant and proactive about data breach threats.

We’re inviting financial partners to join us in our mission of more effectively addressing the risks of data breaches. You can see more about how Breach Clarity works in this webinar with myself and the CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, Eva Casey Velasquez.

If you’re considering a partnership with Breach Clarity, contact me about getting access to your own personal version of the tool to more fully explore its capabilities.

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