These easy steps will protect you from hackers

SPOKANE, Wash. — In 2019, the Washington Attorney General said the number of reported data breaches went up nearly 20%—more than 70% of those from a malicious cyberattack. While this rise may seem concerning, there are small steps consumers can take to ensure their information is secure.

In 2017, Equifax announced the personal information of 147 million people was compromised, that included 3 million Washingtonians. The settlement saw Equifax having to pay out $425 million dollars in restitution.

This is just only example of the increase in data breaches in recent years.

In 2016, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office reported 39 breaches; by 2019 that number rose to 60. Malicious cyberattacks were the most common form of breach.

“I think as virtual as we all are right now, I think it’s safe to assume at least some of everybody’s information has gotten out,” said Ben Spradling from the Better Business Bureau.

In the case of the information from the breach in Washington State, hackers were able to get information like the persons name, address, date of service and amount owed on bills. Even with basic information that is already public, it can be used against the consumer.

RELATED: 4 News Now investigation: Data breach that impacted WA’s unemployed also hit cities, schools and hospitals

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of the medical facility that you use, your address, your full name and maybe your date of birth, and they can use that to create a profile that can really have some long-lasting effects, and you may not realize that until years down the road,” Spradling explained.

However, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances. The BBB recommends updating your username and password on accounts, checking your credit score on a regular basis, and if you do think there is something suspicious, check with that organization to make sure.

“Know for sure the types of information that may have been compromised, because that’s really going to inform the next steps that you need to take,” said Spradling.

The BBB says they have seen information stolen in recent months from people posting pictures of their vaccine cards on social media. Spradling says to make sure you check your privacy settings on those accounts so you aren’t giving away too much information.