Finding Help After Online Security Breach

Zappos and other breaches leave consumers scrambling

By Consumer Bob
|  Monday, Jan 16, 2012  |  Updated 7:01 PM PDT
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They have become so commonplace that some people don't even pay attention, and yet the potential harm could hit close to home. Security breaches are jeopardizing the personal information of millions of online customers yet many of those consumers don't know where to turn.

The latest incident involves shoe giant Zappos. The Amazon-owned shoe seller announced that personal details of more than 24 million of its customers could be in the hands of hackers. That information may include customer names, e-mail addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of credit card numbers. 

But what should you do with that sort of information. Privacy experts say if you think you are a victim, it's time to change your password and email address, maybe even get a new credit card. But where can you turn to complain, that's even more of a mystery for many people. But that that could soon change.

"If you are frustrated and you think your privacy has been violated, we urge you to go to our website and file a complaint," said Amber Yoo with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

The San Diego based non-profit organization has spent years fighting for the rights of consumer on privacy issues.  They noticed that too often people who have had their information stolen or potentially exposed to hackers don't know where to turn for help. The organization has started an online complaint center.

"For the first time consumers can come to our website and fill out their complaint in one spot and we will forward it to the appropriate parties," said Yoo.

She says in many cases there are multiple agencies that handle security breaches including law enforcement.

Amber Yoo says by forwarded complaints to government agencies,  companies will be held accountable for their actions.  If more people know where to turn for help, it may put pressure on private business and politicians to make online transactions and personal data more secure.

The complaint form is found online at www.privacyrights.org.

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