4.6 Million Customers Affected in Scottrade Breach: Are You One of Them?

By Jocelyn Baird, NextAdvisor.com

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and it's off to a pretty dismal start. Following the Experian breach announcement on Oct. 2 that affected 15 million T-Mobile customers, retail brokerage Scottrade announced it had discovered a breach in one of its systems. In a press release posted to its website, Scottrade said it was notified of the hack by federal investigators who are currently investigating cybercrimes that involve the theft of information from Scottrade and several other financial services companies. The system accessed by hackers contained data from approximately 4.6 million customers, and the breach is thought to have lasted from late 2013 to early 2014.

What information is at risk?

Scottrade has said the system that was breached contained customer information, including contact information (such as names, addresses and email addresses) and social security numbers. However, the company insists that the focal point of the attack was peoples' contact information -- not their social security numbers. Furthermore, Scottrade clients' passwords remained encrypted and there is no indication that there was any fraudulent activity on the Scottrade trading platforms or risk to clients' funds.

It's possible that this information was stolen in an attempt to perpetrate stock scams, according to information obtained by cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs. Customers of Scottrade should be on the lookout for potential spam emails in the coming weeks.

What is Scottrade doing to help customers?

On its end, Scottrade has secured the point of intrusion and hired extra IT security to help strengthen its system's protections. The service will be notifying all customers past and present whose information was in the accessed database. If you had an account with Scottrade prior to February 2014, chances are you'll be notified. As a precaution, Scottrade is partnering with AllClear ID to offer those affected a complimentary year of identity theft protection service. You can find more information about this by visiting Scottrade's website or calling the special AllClear ID hotline, which is listed on Scottrade's website, set up specifically for Scottrade customers. The hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT from Monday through Saturday.

It should be noted that AllClear ID, while a popular choice for companies like Scottrade to provide complimentary protection to customers in the event of a data breach, does not offer the best protection a consumer could have. Specifically, it is missing two crucial features that make one of these services effective: Internet black market monitoring and access to your triple-bureau credit reports and scores. Learn more about how AllClear ID measures up by reading this blog post.

You can learn more about protecting yourself in the event you are victim of a data breach, as so many of us have been in recent years, by following our data breach blog. Want to know how AllClear ID compares to other identity theft protection services? Visit our compare chart for a side-by-side evaluation.

This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.