Email marketing giant Epsilon reported on Friday that an "unauthorized entry" into its database has exposed millions of email addresses and, possibly, customer names.
What makes this particular breach particularly worrisome is the scale of Epsilon's client base. According to Epsilon, it serves more than 2,500 clients, including 7 of the Fortune 10 largest companies. While the full scope of affected companies is not being released by Epsilon, CNET and the New York Times are reporting breaches among many of the leading banks, retailers and travel-related service companies (see the list below).
Fortunately, the data stolen—email addresses and names—cannot be used directly for identity theft. However, by knowing a little bit about who you are and where you shop or bank, fraudsters can create much more targeted and believable phishing scams.
With a phishing scam, scammers try to convince you to share your account numbers, passwords and other information by sending you an email that appears to come from your bank or another company with which you do business. The email asks you to click to a website or call a phone number to update your account information. Don't be fooled. These sites are merely cleverly designed fronts for the scammers that mimic the design of the real company. In practice, legitimate businesses almost never use email to ask for your personal information.
To protect yourself from phishing scams, never reply to an email that asks for personal or financial information, and don't click on links in the message. If you want to go to a bank or business's website, type the web address into your browser yourself. And if you're unsure whether an email you received may be legitimate, call the number on your bank statement, credit card or listed in the contact section of a company's website.
The list of companies affected by the Epsilon data breach includes:
Ameriprise Financial, Barclays Bank, Capital One,Citi,JPMorgan Chase, LL Bean Visa Card, U.S. Bancorp
Best Buy, Brookstone, Ethan Allen, Home Shopping Network, Kroger, New York & Company, Target, TiVo, Walgreens
Disney Destinations, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Rewards, McKinsey & Company, Ritz-Carlton Rewards,The College Board