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Blog Post Protect Yourself: Know All About Data Privacy

If you were a victim of a data breach, remain vigilant and continue to monitor your credit, secure your accounts, and consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report. Visit OCABR’s web resources for more information about the Breach Notification Law.
10/27/2022
  • Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
DATA PRIVACY GRAPHIC

Protecting your personal information in this digital age is extremely important.  Bad actors can get a hold of an individual’s sensitive details in a data breach, on the dark web, through phishing, or other means.  Specifically, a data breach occurs when personal identifying information is taken from a system without the owner’s knowledge or permission, this can be intentional or accidental. Data breaches put you at risk and can be potentially costly.

In 2021, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) received reports of almost 2,500 data breaches impacting over 1.8 million Massachusetts residents.  Anything you do online can be used to track you and uncover your data. Shielding personal information and safeguarding your devices can seem like an overwhelming task.  However, there are some steps you can take today to secure your data.

  • Limit GPS tracking on your devices.  Some browsers and applications on your computer and smart phone automatically enable location tracking.  Consider updating your settings to minimize when your location is shared, or stop location tracking all together.
  • Remove the geotag from images and photos you share to social media.  Your location is often captured when taking photos or screenshots.  When you upload photos, take out the location data by editing the properties of the photos and eliminating your personal information.
  • Reduce the way your online activity is shared.  Websites and applications often ask for permission to use your data for targeted advertising and other business purposes.  Thankfully, you can deny the request or change the settings on your device.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication on accounts when available.  This allows you to verify your identity using an application, text message, phone call, or passcode.
  • Use unique passwords and change them often.  A strong password is not easily guessed, and should contain a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.  Never share your passwords!

In the Commonwealth, entities experiencing a data breach must report the incident to OCABR and the Attorney General’s Office.  The organization must also inform the Massachusetts residents that were impacted by the breach.  In addition, if the information involved in the event includes Social Security numbers each affected resident must be provided with free credit monitoring services.

If you were a victim of a data breach, remain vigilant and continue to monitor your credit, secure your accounts, and consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report. Visit OCABR’s web resources for more information about the Breach Notification Law or consumer data breaches reported to the Office. 

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation 

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation protects and empowers consumers through advocacy and education, and ensures a fair playing field for the Massachusetts businesses its agencies regulate.

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