Many consumers willingly provide their email addresses to businesses without blinking an eye. No matter how reliable or well-intentioned businesses may be, Better Business Bureau warns that many are vulnerable to data breaches.
Why do hackers pry into databases in search of email addresses? Simply put, to: market unwanted products or services; sell contact lists and "leads" for profit; send phishing emails with harmful with malicious attachments and links; or lastly, just to prove they can.
Lookout: An influx of spam emails may be coming your way.
Epsilon-an email marketing services company with major banks, retail chains and hotels as clients-is the most recent data breach victim. Epsilon manages customer email databases for thousands of clients, including JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Citi, Kroger, McKinsey, Disney Destinations, The College Board, and more.
On the upside, Epsilon officials believe that most of the customer information was not compromised; on the downside, names and email addresses may have been leaked-which could possibly result in unwanted email communications from unknown third parties.
BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington recommends the following:
- Be cautious of unsolicited emails and messages from unknown senders.
- Beware of phishing emails; do not click on links or open attachments.
- Be wary of "security alert" emails regarding compromised accounts. Do not provide log-in credentials to reset accounts; it might be a lure to steal account information. Do not trust emails asking for credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other personally identifiable information.
BBB offers business advice to help prevent data breaches through its program Data Security-Made Simpler: Businesses can visit www.bbb.org/data-security for free, easy to understand information on protecting sensitive customer and business data.