Protecting Yourself Online

Capital One recently announced a data breach which is one of the biggest data breaches ever. According to news reports, this breach affects more than 100 million customers and applicants. The hacker, who has been arrested, “gained access to 140,000 Social Security numbers, 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers, in addition to an undisclosed number of people’s names, addresses, credit scores, credit limits, balances and other information, according to the bank and the U.S. Department of Justice.” (source: cnn.com)

According to USA Today:
Capital One said it will notify customers impacted by the breach ‘through a variety of channels’.
Capital One said everyone affected by the breach will receive free credit monitoring and identity protection.

Unfortunately, data breaches have become a common occurrence in today’s world. What can you do to help protect yourself, even if you weren’t impacted by the Capital One breach?

1. Credit Freeze: (source: usatoday.com)

  • You can choose to freeze your credit which must be done with all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
  • You can freeze your credit online. The process is free and won’t impact your credit score.
  • A credit freeze prevents lenders from pulling your credit report which would stop criminals from opening a new account in your name.
  • Should you need to open a new account, you will need to “unfreeze” it first. You can always replace the freeze.

2. Monitor your bank and credit card statements:

  • Review your statements for any fraudulent activity. If you detect anything suspicious activity, contact the bank as soon as possible.
  • Set up alerts so you are notified of activity and can verify the transactions.
  • If you can turn off your credit card or debit card when not using it, do it! You can always turn it back on when you need to use your card.

3. Remain vigilant:

  • For your accounts, set strong passwords and change them frequently. Don’t use the same password.
  • Watch out for phishing scams.
  • Make sure that your devices have the latest security software installed.

In addition to the above, The American Bankers Association published an article, “Protecting Yourself Online.” It is filled with terrific tips to help keep your safe online.