Home > Identity Theft and Scams > The Capital One Data Breach: What You Need to Know

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A major data breach was recently announced by Capital One. This latest data breach affects 100 million people in the United States.

Between March and July 2019, a hacker was able to access to 100 million Capital One customer accounts. Capital One fixed the vulnerability right away and began working with law enforcement. Their investigation uncovered one of the largest data breaches in recent years.

The suspect, Paige Thompson, was arrested on the same day Capital One announced the data breach. Thompson is a 33 year old from Seattle. She was able to intentionally gain access through a “firewall misconfiguration.” Thompson even boasted on social media that she obtained information from Capital One illegally.

Capital One will notify you if your account or personal information has been impacted. They will also offer free credit monitoring and protection.

What Was Information was Stolen?

  • Most of the data compromised was on consumer and small business applications submitted from 2005 to early 2019. This information includes names, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and reported income.
  • 140,000 social security numbers
  • Approximately 80,000 bank account numbers
  • Canadian credit card customers, one million social insurance numbers

What Wasn’t Stolen?

  • No credit card account numbers
  • No log-in credentials such as passwords
  • Over 99% of social security numbers weren’t compromised

The Capital One data breach isn’t the first data breach to happen and it’s definitely not going to be the last. There are certain things you can do to keep your information more secure.

Keeping Your Personal Information More Secure

Here are some ways to keep your personal information more secure so you can prevent identity theft and protect your personal information:

  • Keep passwords unique. Don’t use the same password on every site. If your login credentials are compromised on one site, they could be compromised on another if you used the same password. It can be a pain to have so many passwords but there are many apps and options to help you store and remember your passwords securely.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication works as a second layer of security. In addition to your password a second step is taken to verify your identity. This could be an email or text with a passcode that is entered in to access a site.
  • Be wary of public Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi is great but be sure that you aren’t exposing personal data. Always login to your online banking (and any other site where you don’t want your info exposed) on a private network. Public Wi-Fi is better for sites where you don’t enter personal data or login information.
  • Avoid phishing scams. What is phishing? Phishing is when a data thief sends an email which appears to be from a reputable company. The goal is to have you reply with personal data (credit card number, social security number, etc.). If you aren’t expecting an email or aren’t sure about it, call the company to verify.
  • Don’t forget about pharming. Pharming is basically the cousin of phishing. Pharming is when a data thief tries to direct internet users to a bogus website that looks like a real site to steal personal data. To protect yourself, make sure the site you are going to is the legitimate one by looking at the URL and making sure it’s spelled right. You will also want to make sure the site you are going to is secure. A secure site with have an ‘S’ in https rather than http.
  • Freeze your credit if you have been a victim of identity theft. Freezing your credit report makes it harder for a data thief to open new accounts in your name. You can freeze your credit by contacting the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Check out this article on Credit.com for additional information.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been a victim of the Capital One data breach (or any other data breach), there are steps you can take to protect your identity. Credit monitoring will help you identify any potential issues on your credit report.

Monitoring your credit report and credit scores are a very important part of identity protection. Make sure to review your personal data (bank accounts and other sensitive info), credit report and credit scores on a regular basis. Consumers are entitled to a free credit every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also sign up with Credit.com to view your credit score. With Credit.com you get two credit scores every 14 days and a credit report card for free.

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