The American Bar Association (ABA) is the largest association of lawyers and legal professionals worldwide, with over 160,000 members. However, this prestigious organization recently suffered a significant data breach that exposed the login credentials, putting 1.5 million ABA members at risk who used its old website or career center.
According to the ABA, the breach occurred in March 2023, when an unauthorized third party accessed its network and acquired usernames and hashed and salted passwords. These passwords were encrypted with a random string of characters, but they could still be cracked by hackers over time. Moreover, some of the passwords were default ones assigned by the ABA when the accounts were registered.
This breach poses a serious risk of identity theft for the affected members, especially if they used the same credentials for other online accounts or services. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, to commit fraud or other crimes. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft affected 4.8 million Americans in 2020, resulting in $3.3 billion in losses.
The consequences of identity theft can be devastating for anyone, especially for lawyers and other legal professionals who handle sensitive and confidential information daily. Identity theft can damage your reputation, ruin your credit score, cause legal problems, impact your ability to earn, and even jeopardize your license to practice law.
If you are one of the 1.5 Million ABA Members at Risk you must take immediate steps to protect yourself. Here are five tips to help you prevent or mitigate identity theft:
- Change your passwords for all your online accounts. Pay special attention to accounts related to your work or finances. Use strong and unique passwords that are not easy to guess or crack. You can use a password manager to generate and store your passwords securely.
- Monitor your credit reports and bank statements regularly for suspicious or unauthorized activity. You can get a free credit report each year from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can also freeze your credit reports to prevent new accounts from being opened in your name without your consent.
- Review your ABA member profile and update any outdated or inaccurate information. You can also opt out of sharing your personal information with third parties or receiving marketing communications from the ABA.
- Contact the ABA and report any issues or concerns related to the breach. You can call their toll-free number at 1-800-285-2221 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their website at www.americanbar.org for more information and updates on the breach.
- Consider enrolling in an identity theft protection service. Identity protection services alert you of potential threats, monitor your personal information across various sources, and assist you with identity restoration. Some of these services may offer discounts or free trials for ABA members.
The ABA data breach is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly by anyone. By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft and safeguard your future as a lawyer or legal professional.