A new data breach notification bill in Congress has consumer advocates concerned about personal information security. The bill wouldn’t require banks and financial companies to inform people if their information was or might have been hacked.
If the bill becomes law, an organization might not be required to notify the victims of the identity breach where thieves often gain access to a person’s name, Social Security number, or an account number. Only non-banking, large-scale entities like merchants, telecom businesses, and some nonprofit groups would be required to notify their customers about a breach.
What This Means
Notification delays can cause problems when it comes to customers’ accounts, identities, and credit history. Failing to notifying consumers about a possible breach can mean they won’t know there’s a mess to clean up in the first place. Without that knowledge, consumers can’t take measures to protect their identities and finances.
Ed Mierzwinski, the consumer program director at U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is against this bill, according to Forbes.
He pointed out credit bureaus would be included among the entities that wouldn’t have to report such breaches. Unfortunately for consumers, credit reporting bureaus, like Equifax, have been hit hard in the past with such security breaches.
In 2017, over 140 million Americans – more than one-third of the country – found out their personal information was taken by hackers during a breach of Equifax records. A wide-scale breach like that could be more devastating to Americans if they were unaware of the problem.
This bill would supersede any authority states would have to require notifications of any breaches. That means consumers wouldn’t be as protected as they currently are.
More About the Bill
The lead author of the bill is Blaine Luetkemeyer, who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. No action is expected on the bill until March, and it might be later than that.
Although the bill has many critics, the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade association for the largest banks in the country, supports it.
What to Do About Information Breaches
Since ordinary citizens have no hand in making the laws that guide how information hacks are handled, all they can do is be prepared to weather a breach as best as they can. Experts recommend keeping calm but remaining vigilant when breaches do happen.
People who want to deter cyber thieves can change passwords, check their financial accounts daily for unauthorized uses, review credit reports quarterly or more often, and set up multi-factor authentication. They can also opt to place a fraud alert or freeze on their credit files to help prevent unauthorized parties from opening lines of credit in their names.
Author: Mike Brown
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