Earlier this month, we told you about how Sony Pictures Entertainment was still reeling from the after effects of the cyber hack it suffered last December. Prior to the release of The Interview — a political satire about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un starring Seth Rogen and James Franco — hackers compromised email accounts belonging to numerous employees at the company.
We also mentioned then that some of those employees have since filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it failed to adequately protect them from the breach that many believe occurred as a direct result of the movie. According to recent reports from Deadline, the plaintiffs’ case is bolstered by the fact that many employees have had their identities stolen as a result of the breach. The plaintiffs say that many of their members have experienced “thousands of dollars in unauthorized credit card charges,” and have been forced to scramble as thieves open up numerous accounts under their names. In addition, they have seen their names and personal information spread all across the Internet, where anyone could find it and use it for illegal ends.
“Class members are at a heightened risk of credit card fraud, financial identity fraud, medical identity fraud, social identity fraud, and income tax fraud,” read the case memorandum. It added that at least one plaintiff had a PayPal credit card opened in his name, while another had a nearly $4,000 purchase charged to his credit card.
Luckily, it appears that most of the employees have been made aware of these instances of fraud, and have been working with their financial institutions to mitigate the damage and prevent it from happening in the future. Identity theft can quickly spiral out of control and become incredibly costly for victims unless it is contained.
For those people who believe they have been affected by a security breach, it is crucial to double down on proactive defenses against identity theft. Here are a few tips for staving off the worst effects of credit fraud:
- Don’t give out too much information online. You may be surprised by how easy it is for identity thieves to access your private accounts with only small snippets of your personal information. Something as innocuous as a home address or a birthday can be used in conjunction with an email address to pass through security questions and break into an online account undetected.
- Protect your Social Security Number. We use our Social Security Numbers to identify ourselves in a significant number of official capacities — some might even argue that we do this too often. It is important to refrain from giving out your Social Security Number unless you absolutely need to.
- Keep a close eye on any fraudulent banking activity. If you see any withdrawals or purchases on your statements that you cannot explain, notify your banks and creditors immediately and place a fraud alert on your credit report. This will warn credit reporting agencies that your personal finances may have been compromised.
Also consider signing up for a credit monitoring services, which can alert you in the event that certain activity appears on your credit files that is possibly indicative of fraud.