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Weekly Roundup: UK Data Breaches, Identity Theft Scams

Weekly Roundup: UK Data Breaches, Identity Theft Scams
July 12, 2013
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The United Kingdom has been suffering data breach issues lately, with the Ministry of Defense facing cyberattacks and breaches becoming more popular for the National Health Services. This week's news also included a warning to consumers to watch out for fraudulent bank alerts and an announcement that the U.S. Postal Service is selling consumer addresses.

UK Data Breaches

The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) has suffered a cyberattack that poses "both security and financial consequences" for the country, a report from the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) revealed this week. The MOD did not offer specific details on the attack, but said sensitive data was stolen in the breach, ITProPortal reported. The ISC report also showed the U.K. government has faced other cyberattack threats, such as one last summer when criminals attempted to steal information from 200 email accounts across 30 governmental departments.

NHS Data Breaches Increasing Each Year

The National Health Services in the United Kingdom is also facing an increased reach of suffering data breaches, a report by Pulse showed. The number of data breaches at U.K. hospitals increased 20 percent in a year's time, going from 2,337 in 2011-12 to 2,805 in 2012-13. The report came from data obtained through 55 hospital trusts that were able to provide year-on-year statistics. A total of 7,138 data breaches and confidentiality issues have taken place in the last three years. Common data breaches at hospitals include patient information being given to people with permission, voicemails left with the wrong patients and patients being given details on other patients, the report stated.

Bank Alert Scams Look to Steal Personal Information

This week the Better Business Bureau was warning consumers about "smishing" scams. These mobile data security scams involve sending consumers a text message that appears as a bank alert asking them for account information, the BBB reported. A link or phone number is included in the text message, asking consumers to follow it to verify account information - at which time the scammer obtains personal information. Some scams will ask a consumer to verify their PIN to "reactivate your ATM card," the BBB said.

USPS Selling Your Personal Information

Consumers have another data breach to worry about: ompanies obtaining their personal information, such as where they live. The USPS has a database of millions of former addresses of Americans - information that is then sold to about 500 companies licensed with the USPS, Forbes reported this week. While companies are not able to buy new addresses of Americans who move and register their new location with the USPS, they can obtain a new address based on where someone used to live, Forbes reported.

"Either weekly or monthly we distribute an updated file of change-of-address data to the licensed companies," USPS spokesperson Roy Betts said. "Mailers submit their address lists directly to these commercial data processors who update the information and return to the mailer."

Matt Cullina is chief executive officer of IDentity Theft 911.

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