BBB Tips for Data Privacy Day 

CHICAGO – January 28th, 2019 – Information has never been more accessible. Yet identities have never been more at risk. Experts say the number of data breaches and the number of exposed records in the U.S. has reached an all-time high. 

Last year, billions of people were affected by a cyberattack, 765 million in the months of April, May and June alone – with losses surpassing tens of millions of dollars, according to experts. 

Cyberattacks increased 32 percent in the first three months of 2018 and 47 percent during the April-June period, compared to the same periods in 2017. The business sector is the most affected accounting for nearly 91 percent of all exposed records in 2017. 

“In this day and age start treating handing your email out as if you’re handing out your home address,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers and businesses are being hacked due to vulnerabilities they are unaware of and we can no longer focus our efforts on preventative measures one day a year – everyday needs to be Data Privacy Day,” he added. 

BBB offers the following tips to help secure the privacy of your critical information: 

  • Make your passwords long and strong. Use long passwords with a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols – eight characters for most accounts, twelve characters for email and financial accounts. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, especially email and financial. Keep a paper list of your passwords in a safe place, not on or near your computer. Consider using a password vault application.

  • Lock down your login. For your online accounts, use the strongest authentication tools available. Your user names and passwords are not enough; consider two-factor authentication for key accounts like email, banking, and social media, especially for access on mobile devices.

  • Pay attention to your Internet of Things devices. Smart thermostats, voice control systems, cars, even refrigerators are just the beginning of the growing list of devices that watch our homes and track our location. Read the privacy policy and understand what data is being collected and how it will be used.

  • Be suspicious of email. Seven out of 10 cyberattacks (71 percent) start with a phishing email. Whether at home or at work, don’t click on links from unfamiliar sources or unexpected correspondence. One false click can infect a whole computer… or a whole business.

  • Value your personal information. Think of your personal information like money: value and protect it. Be careful what sites you visit and be sure you are on a legitimate site before entering personal information. Be especially wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true, or ask for personal information.

  • Share with care. What you post can last a lifetime, so think about who will see your posts and photos, how they will be perceived, and what information they reveal about you.

  • Own your online presence. Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to limit how and with whom you share information.

  • Think before you app.Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location, has tremendous value. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and understand how it’s collected through apps.

  • Credit freezes and other measures. If you have been a victim of data misuse and are concerned about identity theft you can get a credit freeze. For more information visit:


For more information: 

To make choices about your personal privacy and keep your data safe and secure use these digital literacy tips.

For more on how to make sure your business complies with privacy laws, including GDPR and COPPA, follow these tips.

Individuals should check out the National Cyber Security Alliance’s Privacy Tips, including special information for teens, parents, older adults, mobile users, and more.

Hear BBB’s privacy and security professionals discuss data privacy issues on our “Better Business > Better Series” podcast series. Make sure to subscribe to the series on your mobile device or listen to it on the web.

  Find trustworthy businesses and read business reviews and ratings at

BBB urges everyone to report scam attempts, even if you didn’t lose money, to BBB Scamtracker.

 ABOUT BBB:For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Chicago and Northern Illinois which was founded in 1926 and serves counties from Northwest Illinois across the State to Kankakee and all the areas in between.