3 Million Volkswagen Customers Had Their Information Stolen

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News about data breaches have been all too common over the past decade, and it can leave consumers feeling distrustful and worried about sharing their information. It can be especially alarming if you know your personal or financial details have been stolen.
Your credit score affects everything from your loans to your car insurance rates. So it’s important to know that a company is doing their best to keep your data safe.
CNN reported on a recent hack that left 3 million Volkswagen customers with their information stolen. Here are the details about what information was taken and how you can protect yourself if you suspect that you’re affected.
A Volkswagen logo seen on the outside of a building
Volkswagen could be in hot water after a data breach | Twenty20

What was stolen in the Volkswagen data breach?

Both Volkswagen and their luxury brand Audi were impacted by the data breach. The breach exposed sensitive details including driver license numbers from American and Canadian customers. This breach affected both VW or Audi owners, and people who were just asking about a purchase.
VW said that an external vendor has stolen at least basic contact information from more than 3 million customers. This includes data like phone numbers, emails, mailing addresses, and even vehicle identification numbers. In a few cases, social security numbers (SSNs), account numbers, and birth dates were also stolen.

How has Volkswagen tried to resolve the security issues?

VW has reached out to 90,000 people in the U.S. which mostly consists of Audi customers or shoppers. VW is offering free credit protection for customers who got sensitive information stolen.
The outside vendor that stole this data is used by VW and some of their dealers, but has not been named. The data was gathered between 2014 and 2019, and collected for marketing purposes.
From a statement, VW recommends that customers "remain alert for suspicious emails or other communications that might ask them to provide information about themselves or their vehicle."

What should you do if you’re affected by the data breach?

Sensitive information being stolen, like your SSN and birth date, can be especially harmful. This data can be used to interact with the government on your behalf, like in cases of identity fraud.
If you suspect that you’ve been affected by the data breach, Norton recommends taking these security steps to protect yourself:
  1. Check if you were affected: Contact VW to see whether your data was stolen
  2. Find out what information was stolen: Ask the company what type of data was taken, and the level of sensitivity
  3. Take up offers from the company for help: VW is offering free credit protection that you can use to monitor your finances
  4. Change your online logins, passwords, and security questions: Two-factor authentication can help you protect your account
  5. Contact federal agencies: This includes the Internal Revenue Agency, Social Security Administration, and other agencies to let them know your data has been stolen
  6. Keep watch of your accounts: Look for suspicious activity since thieves can create new accounts with your data
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