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Taking personal precautions is increasingly important for consumers concerned about identity theft and the Internet, but in an age of electronic filing systems, data breach is something the average consumer is helpless to prevent. Data breach, data spill, or data leak is when digital files are stolen and/or released to the Internet. Date breach can be a deliberate act by an employee or hacker, or a mistake precipitated by a lack of adequate security.
In the last three years, more than 200 million personal records were leaked in the U.S., in various entities including federal, state, and local government agencies, financial institutions, universities, medical offices, and retailers. Whether the data breach happens online or offline, the damages are severe. Account numbers, Social Security numbers, financial statements, medical information, employment applications, and customer records are among types of information stolen or leaked to the Internet, exposing private information to identity theft.
There's not much you can do to prevent data breach from happening, but you can take steps to remedy the problem. Keep a close eye on your bank and credit statements and look into services that monitor changes to your credit files and public records.