CHARLESTON — West Virgina Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is encouraging consumers to be vigilant in taking steps to prevent identity fraud after JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported the extent of an August data breach that affected more than 76 million consumers and more than 7 million small business clients.

The JPMorgan security breach is just one in a line of recent cyberattacks that have affected customers of Target, Home Depot, Community Health Systems, Jimmy John’s, eBay, the Sony Playstation Network, and more. These separate breaches all have targeted consumers’ personal information (such as address, telephone number and e-mail addresses) and/or their financial information.

“Unfortunately, it appears that not only are these kinds of cyberattacks showing no signs of slowing down, they’re actually happening with increasing frequency,” Morrisey said in a press release. “Nothing is more important than protecting citizens’ identity, and ensuring private information stays private.

"The rapid succession of stories about hackers accessing supposedly secure data networks should be an impetus for all of us — citizens and businesses alike — to  review the steps we are taking to ensure our information is protected.

While JP Morgan said it does not believe any account data was stolen in this security breach, the sheer size of the breach serves as a good reminder to take a few moments to lock down your personal information. There are a few simple steps you can take that will help make all of your online accounts more secure.

  • Monitor your account information. Regularly review your bank account and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions, and if you find one, report it to your financial institution immediately.

  • Review your credit report annually. A free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) is available once per year from Report any suspicious accounts to begin the process of removing them from the report.

  • Change your passwords frequently. This step, which is the easiest and most important one, is critical to preventing easy access to accounts. The password should contain letters, numbers, and special characters if permitted by the website

  • Be wary of phishing e-mails. The period of time following a major cyberattack is a prime time for hackers to trick unsuspecting customers into responding to fraudulent e-mail messages. If you receive an e-mail that asks you to follow a link or download any kind of file, delete it immediately. Verify questions or problems directly with your financial institution.

  • Turn on two-factor authentication for accounts. In two-factor authentication, the website will send a customer a text message or a separate e-mail to verity their identity before letting them fully log in to account data.

“Hackers continue to get better at finding ways to steal the identities and money of hardworking consumers,” Morrisey said. “Our Office is committed to educating consumers about these very simple ways they can keep their information safe. Prevention is the best cure.”

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