AT&T recently admitted that the company has suffered a data breach affecting as many as 1,600 customers.
The corporation previously experienced a similar internal security invasion in June of this year, when an estimated 500 customers had their personal information stolen. This latest breach is believed to have executed in August, and involves an employee stealing social security numbers as well as other customer account information.
"We recently determined that one of our employees violated our strict privacy and security guidelines by accessing your account without authorization in August 2014," Michael Chiaramonte, AT&T's director of finance billing operations, wrote in a statement to the victims, "and while doing so, would have been able to view and may have obtained your account information including social security number and driver's license number."
The employee responsible for the breach has since been fired, and AT&T recommends that customers monitor their bank accounts for signs of invasion.
This announcement comes on the heels of the JPMorgan security breach, in which 76 million households were affected. Earlier this year, Home Depot reported a six-month breach that compromised 53 million credit and debit cards. Neiman Marcus, Supervalu, P.F. Chang's, Michaels and Jimmy John's have been hacked within the past year as well.
Due to this spade of recent breaches, consumers are now experiencing what security experts refer to as "breach fatigue." They are becoming numb to the dangers of identity theft because the incidents are so common. Indeed, there have been 579 data breaches this year alone, representing a 27.5 percent year-over-year increase.
Companies are forced to spend a great deal of money patching up both inadequate security systems and customer relationships. Target, breached last year just before the holiday season, reports that their security lapse has cost them $146 million to date.
If you're unsure about your company's security, it might be time to upgrade your card processing software, especially in anticipation of a busy holiday season.