A data breach at Capital One last year had Canadians scrambling to change their passwords and check their credit reports. While checking on your info is a good idea when your credit card goes lost or stolen, make sure you do it frequently. Today, information security is of the utmost importance, as our data is more at risk than ever.
When the data breach occurred. lots of people’s sensitive information became available to the hackers. Malware attacks like these are commonplace in our high-tech world. Simply being on social media can subject your sensitive data to those seeking to gain access to your information.
Typical Data Compromised in a Breach
The breach affected approximately 6 million in Canada along with an estimated 100 million people in the US. The good news is that the bulk of the information stolen was limited to personal information customers provided during credit applications submitted from 2005 to early 2019. The information includes:
- Zip and postal codes
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Dates of birth
- Self-reported income
The data breach also obtained general customer data information, including credit scores, credit limits, current balances, and payment history. However, no actual credit card account numbers were compromised. Social Insurance and bank account numbers were only compromised in a limited number of cases:
- The data breach included 1 million CA Social Insurance numbers too.
- It also included 80,000 linked bank accounts numbers of secured credit card customers.
How Capital One Helped Customers Affected by the Breach
Capital One has given all the information they have about the data breach. CEO Richard Fairbank was quoted saying:
“While I’m grateful that the perpetrator has been caught, I am deeply sorry for what has happened. I sincerely apologize for the understandable worry this incident must be causing those affected, and I am committed to making it right.”
Affected customers will be notified by Capital One in the coming weeks. Subsequently, the company will offer all customers in question free credit monitoring and identity theft protection.
What to do if think you may be affected by a credit card data breach
Pay attention to notifications from your credit card company
Capital One credit card customers, particularly secured credit card customers, should watch their email, app, and text notifications from the company to see if they’re among those affected. Capital One says that they’ll be using a variety of different channels to contact affected customers. If you were a victim, you will want to react quickly if you receive this notification. So, be on the lookout.
Keep an eye on your monthly bank account statements
Watch your monthly bank statements, especially if you have linked bank accounts. Scan them for any transactions that you don’t recognize.
You may also want to watch your balance closely if you use your bank’s smartphone app. Most banking apps allow you to send notifications for purchases. Some limit to high amount transactions, while others will notify you of any transactions.
These notifications can basically ensure you’re aware of authorized account use as it happens. If you don’t have notifications set already, check the settings in your app to see what you can enable.
Keep a close eye on your credit report
If you have a credit monitoring service, such as Credit Karma, or you use Capital One’s CreditWise monitoring service, it should alert you to any major changes in your credit report. All three services monitor your TransUnion credit report. These monitoring services will alert you if there’s a major change in your report that could be a sign of identity theft. For example, if someone opens an account in your name, the app will notify you of that change.
In addition, you may want to take advantage of your annual free credit report downloads. This will allow you to download your reports from Experian and Transunion, so you can review those reports as well. The credit bureaus don’t always have the same information in your report, so it’s a good idea to check the report from each bureau.
Take more steps to protect your identity after a data breach
“Unfortunately, Canadians are becomingly increasingly subject to data security crimes,” says Jeff Schwartz, Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Canada. Part of Financial Literacy Month is being aware of your vulnerabilities.
Below are some ways to protect your data from criminals:
- Shred or destroy sensitive information before you throw it out
- Change passwords at least once per quarter
- Never use the same password across several accounts
- Never reply to suspicious emails, especially if they ask for your account numbers or other information
- Avoid accessing your bank account if you’re using public WiFi