FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2008 file photo, a customer signs his credit card receipt at a Target store in Tallahassee, Fla. The U.S. is the juiciest target for hackers hunting credit card information. And experts say incidents like the recent data theft at Target’s stores will get worse before they get better. That’s in part because U.S. credit and debit cards rely on an easy-to-copy magnetic strip on the back of the card, which stores account information using the same technology as cassette tapes. The breach that exposed the credit card and debit card information of as many as 40 million Target customers who swiped their cards between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 is still under investigation. (AP Photo/Phil Coale, File)
Target. Neiman Marcus. And now three other national retailers (yet to be named) have reportedly lost customers’ personal data.
The Target breach alone compromised the data of as many as 110 million Americans — roughly one of every three people in the country.
The recent cascade of scams is an unwanted manifestation of the technology we carry in our pockets, the business we conduct online and the ever-growing array of devices, merchants, service providers and agencies we entrust with pieces of our identity.
Think of how often you swipe your card at the counter, fill out an online form, or even enter your user name and password into a website. Every time, you’re sharing information that thieves are itching to get their hands on.
In 2012, the latest year for which widely accepted statistics are available, 621 confirmed data breaches compromised 44 million individual records. That’s according to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigation Report, considered by many to be the definitive measure of data intrusions in the industry.
Even that is not a comprehensive figure: It’s limited by the number of organizations that participate (a roster that includes outfits as diverse as Deloitte and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security).
See more of this story in today's Atlanta Journal-Constution and on MYAJC.com for subscribers.