On August 5, 2022, Gibson Overseas, Inc. confirmed that the company experienced a data breach after an unauthorized party gained access to sensitive consumer data contained on Gibson’s network. According to Gibson, the breach resulted in the names and Social Security numbers of certain consumers being compromised. Recently, Gibson sent out data breach letters to all affected parties, informing them of the incident and what they can do to protect themselves from identity theft and other frauds.
If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk and what you can do about it. To learn more about how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft and what your legal options are in the wake of the Gibson Homewares data breach, please see our recent piece on the topic here.
Background on the Gibson Homewares Data Breach
According to an official notice filed by the company, on March 25, 2022, Gibson Homewares learned of a security incident that impacted the availability and functionality of its computer network. In response, the company contacted a cybersecurity firm and began an investigation into the incident. Gibson also secured its computer system to ensure there was no longer the possibility that an unauthorized party had access.
The company’s investigation revealed that an unauthorized user was able to access and copy certain files contained on the Gibson network and that some of these files contained sensitive consumer information. Upon discovering that sensitive consumer data was accessible to an unauthorized party, Gibson Homewares then reviewed the affected files to determine what information was compromised and which consumers were impacted. While the breached information varies depending on the individual, it may include your name and Social Security number.
On August 5, 2022, Gibson Homewares sent out data breach letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.
Gibson Overseas, Inc. is a manufacturer and retailer of household goods based in Commerce, California. Specifically, the company deals in tabletop products such as cookware, coffee and tea accessories, glassware, dining ware, cutlery, serving ware, and kitchen tools and gadgets. Gibson sells its products under a variety of different brand names, including Gibson Home, Gibson Elite, Martha Stewart and Babish, Wanda June, GAP, Peanuts, Mr. Coffee, Crockpot, Kenmore, Oster and Laurie Gates. Gibson Homewares employs more than 430 people and generates approximately $334 million in annual revenue.
What Can Hackers Do with Your Social Security Number?
Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly developing new ways to obtain consumers’ personal, financial and protected health information. But how can they profit off of your stolen information? Most people assume that identity theft or unauthorized transactions are the extent of the damage a hacker can cause; however, that is not necessarily the case, especially when they obtain your Social Security number.
Criminals have a few different ways to profit off of stolen Social Security numbers.
Open Credit Cards or Take Out Loans
The most common harm associated with a data breach involves hackers using your information to open up a new line of credit. Usually, this involves a hacker applying for a new credit card or personal loan. To do this, a hacker would also need your date of birth and address. However, once they have your name and Social Security number, obtaining the other information won’t pose much of a hurdle. For example, a cybercriminal may have access to your other information through another data breach, a database of compromised information, or by conducting an online search using the stolen information.
Tax Refund Fraud
A hacker who steals your Social Security number can file a fraudulent tax return on your behalf in hopes of intercepting your tax refund. Unfortunately, victims of tax refund fraud often don’t realize they’ve been targeted until the IRS rejects their tax return because it’s already been filed. To reduce the chances of a hacker successfully committing tax refund fraud, you should file your tax return as soon as possible.
Open Fraudulent Utility Accounts
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 13 percent of fraud incidents in 2016 involved the creation of new phone and utility accounts. To open up a utility account, all a hacker needs is your name, address and your Social Security number.
Of course, in many cases, hackers do not conduct identity theft or fraud themselves. Instead, they post your information for sale on the dark web and sell it to the highest bidder. This enables hackers to make a quick profit and move on to the next cyberattack and the next set of victims.