A hacker recently stole information on 100 million credit card customers from one of the biggest card companies in the world. According to The Wall Street Journal, the hacker was able to access information like “names, addresses, ZIP Codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth and self-reported income, the bank said. Consumer data including credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history and some transaction data are also part of the breach. Also exposed were about 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 linked bank account numbers.”
The victims were customers of Capital One. Here’s what happened according to Capital One:
On July 19, 2019, we determined there was unauthorized access by an outside individual who obtained certain types of personal information relating to people who had applied for our credit card products and to Capital One credit card customers.
We immediately fixed the configuration vulnerability that this individual exploited and promptly began working with federal law enforcement. The FBI has arrested the person responsible. Based on our analysis to date, we believe it is unlikely that the information was used for fraud or disseminated by this individual. However, we will continue to investigate.
What Should You Do?
For the moment you should begin monitoring your Capital One accounts. Additionally, Capital One tells customers:
You can request a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Once you receive your reports, review them for suspicious activity, such as inquiries from companies you did not contact, accounts you did not open, and debts on your accounts that you did not authorize.
- Verify the accuracy of your Social Security number, address(es), complete name and employer(s).
- Notify the credit bureaus if any information is incorrect in order to have it corrected or deleted.
To obtain free credit reports, simply visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form, which can be found at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resources/forms/requestformfinal.pdf, and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Additionally, you can call the toll-free fraud number of any one of the three nationwide credit bureaus and place an initial or extended fraud alert on your credit report.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348-5069
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days and acts as an alert to potential lenders. An extended fraud alert is intended for victims of identity theft and stays on your credit report for seven years.
Bourree Lam and Julia Carpenter, writing at The Wall Street Journal, recommend freezing your credit card account if it was part of the breach. They write:
First, freeze your credit. This is the most important step to protecting your information. You can call Equifax, Experian or TransUnion or go to their websites to do this online.
Freezing your credit will prevent new lines of credit from being opened in your name, and it doesn’t affect your credit score. It is free and guaranteed by federal law. Credit-reporting agencies must freeze your credit within one business day if you make the request by phone. Be sure to write down the PIN the credit bureau gives you when you freeze your credit so you can lift the freeze. You can also place a fraud alert when you’re contacting the credit bureaus, which will make it harder for someone to open an account or credit card in your name.
It’s Time to Get Proactive
You don’t want to be the last one to know if your accounts have been breached. Data breaches and identity theft are getting more common, and if you’re not paying attention, you could miss one. That’s why I am proactive about protecting my identity. I use LifeLock. Just to make this clear, I am not getting paid for a LifeLock endorsement. I genuinely use the product, and I only recommend it because I have found it to be useful to me and my family. I use LifeLock to ensure that I know if my personal information has been breached. That knowledge, delivered quickly can help thwart any attempt to steal my identity. If you want to join LifeLock, you can use the promotional code BREACHFAMILY right now to save 15%.
You can read some of what I have written in the past about identity theft here:
- 885 Million Financial Records Exposed Online
- How Are You Protecting Your Identity?
- Identity Fraud on the Rise: Here’s Fidelity’s Customer Protection Guarantee
- Your Personal Financial Security Part I
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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