NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Sony announced Tuesday that a hack into its Playstation network compromised the personal information of about 77 million of its users.
According to company blog post, whoever is responsible for the breach now has access to these users’ names, addresses, emails, birth dates, network logins for Sony’s Playstation network, passwords and usernames. Sony also said it was possible that credit or debit card information had been obtained during the breach.
The Sony snafu follows a similar one experienced by Epsilon, a service that manages email for dozens of major companies, earlier this month. In that particular case, only email addresses were obtained, but regardless, it’s forcing many consumers to rethink who they give their information to.
“Consumers are definitely at a greater risk than they were before,” says James Van Dyke, President of Javelin Strategy and Research, a market research company that conducts an annual study of identity theft.
This isn’t because data breaches have become prevalent, he explains. Recent research from Javelin indicates that data breaches on an annual basis have actually become less common. But consumers want to be careful because the data breaches that do occur are now much more targeted, meaning that a thief is purposefully going after specific information.
As such, Van Dyke says that while consumers may not need to go to extremes, “individuals who think their data has been compromised need to do something.”
Van Dyke spoke to MainStreet about what you can do when your credit card or banking information falls into the wrong hands:
Sign up with SMS alerts.
Most banks offer free services that allow their account holders to receive alerts whenever a transaction is made with their credit or debit cards. Van Dyke suggests that any consumer who is involved in a data breach and has not yet signed up for general transaction alerts from their bank or card issuer should do so immediately. He also says these consumers should select to receive text messages, as opposed to emails, for the alerts since that will minimize the chance of missing an important one.