Florida state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warned consumers about reports of a recent data breach at Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest blood testing providers in the country. Initial reports indicate nearly 12 million customers may have had personal, financial and medical information breached due to an issue with a contractor’s billing vendor.
“Data breaches are a scary reality Americans constantly face,” Patronis said on Thursday. “Florida ranks first in fraud and fourth in identity theft nationwide, so I encourage all Floridians to take proactive steps to protect their financial and health related information. It’s important to keep your guard up and to defend yourself and your family from data crooks.”
Patronis also offered “5 Tips to Protect Your Personal Financial Information” which are included below:
- Check your credit card activity often. Reviewing your recent account activity is fundamental to credit card safety. Most companies allow you to review transactions online or by phone. If your credit card company offers email or text alerts regarding unusual activity, sign up now.
- Consider a credit freeze. If you believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, consider placing a free credit freeze on your credit file with each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to further prevent unauthorized credit report activity.
- Monitor credit reports. Constantly check your credit report for any accounts that scam artists may have opened in your name. Credit reports are available free of charge, from each of the three national credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to pull your reports today.
- Be extra careful about emails and attachments. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails that claim to be updates from any company connected to a data breach.
- File your taxes promptly. While thieves may use stolen information to create fraudulent bank accounts, they may also file fraudulent tax returns. File your taxes as soon as you have the tax information you need and respond promptly to letters sent to you by the IRS. Note that the IRS will never communicate with you via email, so watch out for this type of fraud and don’t open emails purporting to be from the IRS.