ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) - A record number of New Yorkers reported having their personal information stolen in 2017, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reported Thursday.
In 2017, 9.2 million New Yorkers had their data compromised -- four times as many as 2016.
Speaking in Rochester on Thursday, the attorney general said a majority of those breaches were linked to the Equifax hack, but said other breaches are on the rise as well.
Schneiderman told reporters that New York's laws are behind other states. He is pushing the SHIELD Act -- which he says would help make New York a "model for data security."
"Data breaches cause personal crises for New Yorkers every time they happen,” said Schneiderman, "driving down credit scores and destroying financial lives."
"We talk to people every day that have had their information compromised," added Lynette Baker of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester.
The SHIELD Act would create a legal responsibility to put in place "reasonable" safeguards for protecting sensitive data. Currently, under New York law, Schneiderman says there is no law requiring companies to protect data.
Companies would be a require to meet federal standards for data security.
"We are providing both a carrot and a stick," Schneiderman told reporters. "[Companies] can be penalized if you don't meet the standards and you can be penalized if you don't report a data breach -- and it substantially increases the woefully inadequate fines under current law. But we also provide an incentive from companies."
That incentive: Companies that meet federal standards would be granted a “safe harbor” from legal action by the attorney general's office.
As for protecting your private data, experts say that while consumers can't control how others protect your information, you can obviously limit what information you give to companies.
"Many places ask for your social security number," explained Baker. "Most don't need it."
Baker also recommends you use strong, secure passwords and using secure websites -- like sites that have URLs that start with "https."