TechCrunch reported on April 19 that Geico, one of the largest auto insurance companies in the country, disclosed a data breach to the California attorney general’s office, citing that hackers had been stealing customers’ driver’s license numbers for months. In the notice, Geico said fraudsters were able to “obtain unauthorized access to your driver’s license number through the online sales system on our website.”
From January 21 until March 1, cybercriminals accessed Geico’s website and stole customers’ driver’s license numbers.
Although the total number of affected customers is unknown, Geico mentioned that the breach occurred between January 21 and March 1. However, California law states that a company must file a report if more than 500 customers are affected by a data breach.
The data breach notice also mentioned that Geico has “reason to believe that this information could be used to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits in your name.” Geico reassures customers that the only information stolen was their driver’s license number.
How Did the Breach Happen?
In the data breach notice sent out to customers, Geico alludes to scammers using the information found in other data breaches and possibly credential stuffing to access customer accounts for the real target, which was their driver’s license number.
Someone’s driver’s license number could be used for identity theft and fraud in various ways. Geico believes that hackers intend to use the stolen IDs in this breach for unemployment benefits. They warn customers to contact “your government agency” if you suspect that your driver’s license number is being used for fraud.
What is Geico Doing About It?
In its breach notice, Geico said that they secured the website and opened an internal investigation into the root cause as soon as they became aware of the issue. They mentioned that although their standards for security and privacy are already high, they have implemented further “security enhancements” to prevent this from happening in the future and stop any illegal activity on their website.
They are also offering customers one free year of identity theft monitoring through their vendor. They provide a code to use when registering for the free year and provide instructions on how to sign up. Anyone affected by the breach can access this benefit. However, in the notice, they mention that they aren’t even sure if the person they are contacting was included in the breach. It’s a bit alarming how little information they seem to have regarding a breach that took place on their own website.
What Customers Can Do to Stay Safe
Along with offering identity theft protection, Geico strongly suggests that customers also keep an eye out for any fraudulent activity by diligently reviewing their bank and credit card statements each month. They also recommend checking an annual copy of your credit report to look for anything suspicious. They also included an attachment with further tips to stay safe.
Other tips to avoid identity theft are:
- Turn on two-factor authentication for all your accounts.
- Use very strong passwords on everything.
- Never reuse passwords on multiple accounts.
- Protect your driver’s license number, passport ID, social security number, and birthdate diligently. Leave those things at home when you don’t need them.
- Shred documents with personal information on them before discarding them in the trash.
- Share very little personal information online and on social media.
- Sign up for credit and identity theft monitoring to let the experts keep an eye on things and alert you when there is a problem.
- Watch out for phishing emails.
- Never click links or download attachments from unsolicited emails.