Ever lose a mobile device? Have one stolen? Know someone who has? Device loss and theft is a common issue when it comes to identity theft and results in data breaches. Some studies have shown as many as 2.5 million laptops are stolen annually, which equates to a laptop stolen every 12 seconds.
It used to be that laptops were stolen only because of their resale value. However, a laptop today can be purchased for under $500 and the resale value might be less than $100. Criminals know that depending on the data, a stolen laptop could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the right hands.
For example: SecurityInfoWatch reports, “The health information of 729,000 patients was compromised when thieves stole two laptops from an administration building of a San Gabriel Valley-based hospital group, officials said. The thieves swiped the laptops from a video-monitored sixth-floor office on a medical campus that officials said is ‘gated and patrolled by security.’ The suspects broke into the office and stole two password-protected laptops, they said.
“According to the hospital group, the computers contained data, including patients’ names, Medicare/insurance identification numbers, diagnosis/procedure codes and insurance/patient payment records. Some of the files contained the Social Security numbers of Medicare patients, officials said.”
What officials didn’t say is that this kind of laptop theft can result in a data breach that is the equivalent of a crook hitting the jackpot.
Consumers are at a significant disadvantage in these situations. Due to no fault of their own, brazen thieves got access to their data, and there’s nothing they can do about it. More than likely, the hospital will be saddled with providing the victims with some form of credit monitoring that will cost the hospital millions.
Chances are good that at some point this year or in the future, your data will be on a laptop that is either lost or stolen—and you may never even hear about it. My suggestion is to always be proactive. Today, make an investment in identity theft protection and double up on your protection by getting a credit freeze.