According to a new report from the data news website CIO, records for more than 13 million consumers have been exposed in about 450 data breaches across the country this year. The largest percentage of these occurrences - 35 percent - was suffered by businesses. Those for medical and healthcare services wasn't far behind, comprising another 29.1 percent of that total. The government and military have made up 16.2 percent of the breaches reported so far this year, while those from banking, credit and financial services accounted for 10.5 percent. Educational institutions rounded out the list at 9.2 percent. There were fewer than 500 breaches in all of last year.
The report said that often after these events, companies or organizations may decide to offer consumers that had been affected by a data breach credit monitoring, but those that might consider taking advantage of those services may want to be careful. CIO's report said that in many cases, they will not take effect for a while - sometimes up to six months. As a result, critical personal information, such as a name, date of birth, credit account details or a Social Security number could be used at any point during that period of time, and wouldn't be reported to the consumer without an active credit monitoring service.
The report said that because of this, it's important for consumers to be proactive in protecting themselves from data breaches. Simply waiting for something to happen to their information may seem like a safe tactic for many consumers, but many institutions may wait months after a breach to even notify affected consumers. For this reason, it may be advisable for consumers to invest in a credit monitoring service of their own.
Many data breaches expose enough information to allow would-be criminals to illegally open accounts in their names. By enrolling in a credit monitoring program, consumers would be able to learn when someone else tries to use their personal information to open a line of credit, and therefore protect them from instances of fraud.