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6 Steps to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Breach

6 Steps to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Breach

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Jul 30, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

On July 29, 2019, Capital One announced that a breach affecting about 100 million U.S. customers and about 6 million in Canada was discovered. The hacker gained access to a wealth of personal information, including 140,000 Social Security numbers of credit card customers, as well as self-reported income, birthdates, addresses, ZIP codes, bank account numbers, email addresses, and some transaction data from consumers and small businesses who applied for credit cards from 2005 through early 2019.

“This may not be the biggest breach in terms of Social Security numbers compromised or other card information stolen, but it’s yet another reminder of why it is so important to build fraud detection checks into your regular routine,” says CompareCards senior industry analyst Matt Schulz. “Breaches have become such a common occurrence that if you’re not keeping a constant eye on your accounts, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”

While Capital One stated that it has fixed the vulnerability, and believes it unlikely the stolen data was used for fraud or was shared with thieves, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

  1. If you are a Capital One cardholder and/or applied for a Capital One card during the time period the data was hacked, it’s probably best you change your username and password to your online card account, even though Capital One says logins weren’t accessed.
  2. Since 80,000 linked bank accounts of Capital One’s secured card customers were exposed, we also recommend that those customers change their username and passwords to their bank accounts.
  3. Capital One is offering free credit monitoring and identity protection to those affected by the breach. The bank stated that it will be contacting those customers, so if you are contacted, take advantage of the service.
  4. Closely monitor your credit card and banking accounts for suspicious or unusual activity.
  5. Sign up for text alerts for both your bank and credit card accounts to keep a close eye on transactions.
  6. Consider freezing your credit reports from the big three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to prevent any new, fraudulent accounts being opened in your name.

If you are a Capital One cardholder and are considering closing your card as a result of the breach, know that closing a card can have a negative credit score impact by reducing your overall credit utilization and decrease your average length of credit history. Plus, since the bank says no credit card account numbers or log-in credentials were compromised, the risk of your card details being compromised is low.

In these days of near-constant data theft, it’s important that you take the time and effort to protect your financial accounts by frequent checking, setting up text alerts to monitor all activity and reviewing your credit reports for fraudulent accounts at least quarterly (you can do so for free at annualcreditreport.com).

While we don’t have much control over data breaches, with a bit of oversight we do have the power to detect fraudulent activity if and when it occurs.

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