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How Hackers Use Your Stolen Information

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By the end of Q3, the number of data breaches in 2023 had already sailed past previous records from 2020 and 2021. With the threat of data breaches looming greater than ever, it’s your data that’s ultimately at risk. If you receive a data breach letter, you need to take it seriously. Read the letter closely and note what kind of information the hackers stole, understand the dangers you're facing, and be proactive to protect yourself. 

If you need help, contact our data breach lawyers by filling out the contact form. We offer free case reviews and can assess your risks, offer advice, and advise you on how to seek justice through a data breach lawsuit. 

How Do Hackers Use Stolen Data? 

There are countless ways that someone might use your stolen data. However, they fall broadly under four umbrellas: 

  • Identity fraud – By using your name and SSN, it's possible for someone to open lines of credit or commit crimes in your name. 
  • Financial fraud – Stolen bank credentials, credit card information, and other payment data can enable hackers to steal money directly from your accounts.
  • Medical fraud – If someone has access to your private medical information, they may be able to obtain medical care using your benefits. 
  • Selling your data – Even when a hacker isn't interested in the above opportunities, they can sell your data to someone who is. Each year, the number of financially motivated data breaches increases significantly. 

How Do Hackers Use Your Information for Identity Theft? 

It might seem like financial fraud that immediately targets your checkings account is the worst possibility. However, identity theft is far worse, and hackers prioritize stealing Social Security numbers over all other forms of data. 

On the one hand, medical and financial fraud stemming from a data breach are often easy to deal with once you discover them. You can change credentials, your bank can refund you for fraudulent purchases, and the damage can be contained. On the other hand, a Social Security number is for life. Once someone has it, they can carry out fraud against you for the rest of your life. 

Not only is protecting against SSN-based identity fraud much more complex, but the attacks they can mount are more complex as well. A malicious actor with your SSN can ruin your credit score, steal your money, plunge you into debt, frame you for crime, and more. 

Opening Lines of Credit

One of the most common types of identity theft consists of taking out a loan or applying for a credit card in your name. All that they need is your SSN, name, address, and date of birth. Once they've matched your SSN to your name, it's easy to obtain the rest of the information using a database of past data leaks. 

Steal Your Tax Refund

Someone with your SSN can easily steal your tax return. All they have to do is file a tax return in your name, but provide their payment information. If they file before you do, they'll be able to steal your tax return and you won't know until you try and fail to file. 

Filing for Government Benefits

The Social Security number has grown into a sort of universal identifier in American society, and it's tied to virtually all state and government benefits. If a hacker has your SSN and basic personal information, they can file for benefits or steal benefits you already receive. To make matters worse, resolving the fraud requires dealing with the complex bureaucracy and legal red tape of the relevant governmental organizations. 

Obtaining Health Care

If someone wants medical care without having to pay for it, it can be cheaper to buy an SSN from a hacker. Once someone acquires your SSN and private medical information, they have everything they need to go to a doctor's office and receive care out of your benefits. This can leave you with significant deductibles and other expenses, and it can compromise your future medical care due to the doctor recording the criminal's medical information.

Criminal Identity Theft

The most upsetting form of identity fraud may be criminal identity fraud. This form of fraud doesn't just entail committing a crime against you, but can involve committing a crime and passing your information to the police. You can find yourself under arrest, in prison for days or weeks, and stay saddled with an arrest record. While you can often expunge this arrest from your records, it can be a grueling process that takes months. 

What to Do if Hackers Stole Your Information

All data breaches have the potential to be serious, but the loss of your SSN is the greatest danger of all. If you receive a data breach letter and find that your information has been stolen, you should immediately reach out to the major credit bureaus and issue a credit freeze. After that, reach out to the data breach class action lawyers for further guidance and a free case review. 

We'll recommend steps on how to protect yourself and begin a data breach investigation into the company that lost your information. Depending on the specifics of your case, we may recommend a data breach lawsuit as a way to collect damages for your risks and losses. You'll never have to pay for our services up-front; we only collect compensation from a portion of your winnings. If we don't win, you don't pay.

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