Consumers Offered Guidance to Navigate Data Security Breaches: Coalition for Data Security Offers Advice on What to Do - and What Not to Do - If Involved in a Data Breach

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Today, the Coalition for Data Security ( issued its new guide First Do No Harm: How to respond when your consumer data is breached - a practical guide for action when consumers are involved in a data breach. It is designed to provide accurate information about the relationship between data breaches and identity theft so that consumers can protect themselves from possible consequences of a breach without causing more harm than good.

Don't Lose Sleep Over It

    "We're trying to give consumers guidance based on facts, not fear," said CDS Executive Director Jeff Tassey. "You've only got about a 1 in 11,000 chance of having your identity misused as a result of a data breach. Overreacting could cause you more damage than actual protection in the long run."

According to ID Analytics, in the worst security breach studied, less than one tenth of one percent (0.09 %) of consumers had their identities misused as a result of the breach. Additionally, in a report to Congress, the General Accountability Office found no evidence of links between security breaches and identity theft.

The First Do No Harm guide provides step-by-step advice based on the type of breach that occurs, such as:

-- The "Identity Information" breach reveals a combination of name, Social Security number, and other personally identifiable information. Government and university breaches are frequently this type - groups that tend to lag behind the private sector on encryption technology and other security measures.

-- The "Account Information" breach will include bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, or other financial information where a criminal could attempt to use the financial accounts directly. Extreme reactions such as credit freeze will do nothing to protect a consumer in these cases.

-- The "Don't Lose Sleep Over It" breach exposes things like names, addresses, phone numbers. This is no different than one's information being in a phone book, and will not lead directly to identity theft or account fraud.

-- Other Sensitive Breaches, such as insurance, cell phones, or other services. The amount of damage a criminal can cause will be limited to those services.

The Coalition for Data Security is a resource for consumers, businesses, policymakers, and the media for matters related to data security breaches. Its Web site ( acts as a central portal for studies, consumer tips, news articles, and other resources that outline where the real holes are in data security today, and what needs to change in order to best protect consumers and businesses involved in a security breach. The Coalition's members include: CapitalOne, GE Money, National Retail Federation, National Automobile Dealers Association, Food Marketing Institute, United Services Automobile Association, Citibank, HSBC, Consumer Bankers Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and MasterCard.

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Trish Wexler
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