How to protect your identity after a big data breach

How do you know if your personal information was stolen?

In the Capital One breach of July 2019, one hacker 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 US Department of Justice.

Curious if you’re one of the victims? Don’t wait until you’re hit with a major bill for unrecognizable purchases made in your name. Here are some effective ways to make sure that you’re safe:

Check your credit report

Every consumer is allowed to access a free copy of their credit report annually Your report will show information about you from the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion; review everything.

You’ll want to look for unidentified accounts or loans in your name, and inaccurate information—these are signs that someone has stolen your identity.

Place a freeze on your files

When you freeze your credit files, you make it impossible for new accounts to be opened in your name. Of course, this is problematic for your own finances, so only take this step if you feel confident that someone is trying to abuse your identity. Also, keep in mind that a credit freeze doesn’t prevent charges from occurring on existing accounts.

Sign up for fraud alerts

Think you might’ve been victimized but don’t want to choose the nuclear option of a credit freeze? Place fraud alerts on your credit files. With fraud alerts, creditors are required to verify that anyone trying to open a line of credit in your name is truly you.

Contact Capital One

On their website, Capital One says, “We will notify affected individuals through a variety of channels. We will make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to everyone affected.” Contact them directly to learn if your information was compromised.

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