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by Amanda Domitrowich

In March of this year, Capital One was involved in a data breach which exposed the information of over 100 million U.S. and Canada customers. The hacker found a configuration vulnerability in Capital One’s infrastructure allowing access to typical credit card application data from consumers and small businesses who had applied for credit from 2005 on. Capital One has since fixed the configuration vulnerability and is working with law enforcement. Capital One will contact you via mail if you are a victim of the breach. Capital One has offered to provide free credit monitoring and identity protection to those affected.

What to do if you suspect you are a victim:

  1.  Place a fraud alert
  2. Contact fraud departments
  3. Freeze your credit
  4. Document everything
  5. Create a recovery plan – https://www.identitytheft.gov/

Steps to take to prevent your identity and credit info from falling into the wrong hands:

  1. Know who you’re talking to. Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others.
  2. Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
  3. Guard your mail against theft. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office—not in your own mailbox for your carrier to pick up.
  4. Add multifactor authentication for your logins and other transactions. This is a second security step which requires more than one method of authentication before you can access your account.
  5. Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date or your phone number.
  6. Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact and know who you’re dealing with.
  7. Keep items with personal information in a safe place. To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications and other financial statements.
  8. Minimize the amount of identification information you carry to what you actually need. Don’t carry your social security card—memorize the number and store the card in a secure place.
  9. Monitor your credit reports.
  10. Keep passwords secure.

For more tips and information, visit the FTC’s website. 

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