Volkswagen Group of America has revealed a data breach impacting more than 3.3 million customers after a vendor exposed unsecured data online.
The automaker said an unauthorized third party obtained personal information about customers and interested buyers from a vendor used for digital sales and marketing by its Audi Volkswagen brands and some U.S. and Canadian dealers.
Volkswagen said 90,000 Audi customers and prospective buyers had sensitive data impacted relating to purchase or lease eligibility. The sensitive data was comprised of driver license numbers in more than 95% of cases. A small number of records included additional data like dates of birth, Social Security numbers and account numbers.
What Do Hackers Do with Your Information?
Once hackers obtain this personal data, they can use your credentials to access your financial and other accounts online in what is called credential stuffing. They may also apply for credit as you for other financial products.
If you are a victim of a data breach, you are at greater risk of identity theft. If you’ve been notified your information might have been compromised in a data breach or suspect your personal information has been exposed, there are some concrete steps you can take to help protect your critical data.
How to Help Protect Your Information
Monitor your credit reports. If the breach includes your Social Security number, the information can be used to open new accounts in your name. If you suspect you are a victim of a data breach, checking your credit report can help you identify any unusual activity, such as new accounts or inquiries. A credit report and identity theft monitoring service can monitor your personal data with the credit bureaus along with scour the internet and dark web to see if your information is at risk.
Initiate a fraud alert. You can set a fraud alert, which warns lenders that you may have been a victim. You can contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. A fraud alert is a statement in your credit report that alerts anyone reviewing the reports that you may be a victim of fraud or identity theft.
Notify your department of motor vehicles of the breach. The Volkswagen breach compromised customer’s driver’s licenses. If you are notified of a breach involving your driver’s license or another government identification document (such as a passport or non-driver ID), contact the agency that issued the document and find out what it recommends in such situations. You might be instructed to cancel the document and obtain a replacement. Or the agency might instead “flag” your file to help prevent fraud.
Monitor your bank and other financial accounts. If the breach involves an existing financial account, such as checking, savings, money market or brokerage account, ask your financial institution to cancel your account and issue a new account number. Carefully monitor all your account transactions online. If you become aware of any fraudulent transactions, immediately call your financial institution and follow up by formally disputing the transaction in writing.