Every day seems to present an opportunity for a new data breach at some large financial institution. The most recent news occurred this week when Capital One released the following message (in part):
Date: July 29, 2019
“Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE: COF) announced today that on July 19, 2019, it determined there was unauthorized access by an outside individual who obtained certain types of personal information relating to people who had applied for its credit card products and to Capital One credit card customers.
“Based on our analysis to date, this event affected approximately 100 million individuals in the United States and approximately 6 million in Canada.
“The largest category of information accessed was information on consumers and small businesses as of the time they applied for one of our credit card products from 2005 through early 2019. This information included personal information Capital One routinely collects at the time it receives credit card applications, including names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income.
“Beyond the credit card application data, the individual also obtained portions of credit card customer data, including:
- Customer status data, e.g., credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, contact information
- Fragments of transaction data from a total of 23 days during 2016, 2017 and 2018
“No bank account numbers or Social Security numbers were compromised, other than:
- About 140,000 Social Security numbers of our credit card customers
- About 80,000 linked bank account numbers of our secured credit card customers
“We will notify affected individuals through a variety of channels. We will make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to everyone affected.”
If you find your information has been compromised (or even if it hasn’t), here are Five Tips to help protect your credit and identity:
Request a copy of your credit report today.
You are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion —at: AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can do this every 122 days by rotating among the agencies. Look for suspicious accounts or activity that you don’t recognize—such as someone trying to open a new credit card or apply for a loan in your name. If you DO see something, visit: IdentityTheft.gov/databreach to find out how to mitigate the damage.
Monitor your online statements.
The credit report won’t tell you if there has been money stolen from a bank account or suspicious activity on your credit card. Unfortunately, you’ll have to turn this into a habit. In most cases, theft happens over time, starting with small amounts stolen from across your accounts.
Place a credit freeze and/or fraud alert on your account with all the major credit bureaus by visiting:AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can put a fraud alert, for free, by contacting one of the credit agencies, which is required to notify the other two. This will warn creditors that you may be an identity theft victim, and they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you. The fraud alert will last for 90 days and can be renewed.
Consider putting a freeze on your credit. A freeze blocks anyone from accessing your credit reports without your permission—including you. This can usually be done online, and each bureau will provide a unique personal identification number that you can use to “thaw” your credit file if you need to apply for new lines of credit sometime in the future. Fees to freeze your account vary by state, but commonly range from $0 to $15 per bureau. You can sometimes get this service for free if you supply a copy of a police report (which you can file and obtain online) or affidavit stating that you believe you are likely to be the victim of identity theft.
Consider signing up with a credit monitoring service.
Many Americans have opted to sign up for a credit monitoring service, which won’t prevent fraud, but WILL alert you when your personal information is being used or requested. In most cases, there is a cost involved, but Capital One appears to be offering protection for free for those affected.
Opt out of prescreened credit offers.
ID thieves like to intercept offers of new credit sent via postal mail. If you don’t want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you have two choices: You can opt out of receiving them for five years by calling toll-free: 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or by visiting: optoutprescreen.com
To opt out permanently, you must return a signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.