Are you one of the 106 million Capital One credit card and account holders affected by the latest online security breach? First, do not panic. Consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges on stolen account numbers.
Second, read the guidelines by the Better Business Bureau on what concerned consumers can do to protect their personal information after a data breach:
1. Consult the website of the company that was breached for the latest information. Type the company name directly into your browser and watch for the sign of a secure site (https).
2. If a credit card has been compromised, you will likely hear from the bank or card issuer first. Call the customer service number on your card for questions.
3. Consider putting a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies (bbb.org/creditfreeze): Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
4. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website authorized by the Federal Trade Commission to provide you with a free annual credit report. Be wary of ads, emails and social media messages for other services.
5. If your credit card has been breached:
• Monitor your credit card statements carefully (go online; don’t wait for the paper statement).
• Report any fraudulent charge to your bank or credit card issuer immediately so the charge can be reversed, and a new card issued.
• Keep receipts in case you need to prove which charges you authorized.
6. If your debit card has been breached:
• Do all the above as for credit cards and monitor your bank account(s) closely. Debit cards do NOT have the same protections as credit cards. Debit transactions withdraw funds directly from your account(s).
7. Beware of scammers eager to prey on your anxiety via phone, email or social media. If you receive a call or email offering help, please contact the company directly yourself. Share your personal or financial information only with those you trust.
We cannot emphasize that last point enough. Please be on high alert for calls and emails from scammers pretending to be from your bank or a retailer. Scammers are hoping you’ll give personal information to “fix” a problem. They are hoping you make a mistake typing a URL, land on their copycat fake websites and share your personal information. They are hoping you will click the links on fake emails and download malware onto your device.
Lastly, please don’t wait till you have been a victim of a data breach. Check your credit report annually, research how to create more secure passwords, and check out bbb.org for more tips on how to protect your personal information.
Remember to put a credit freeze on the credit reports of both you and your children, with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Frauds are after anything and everything. Let’s surprise them! Don’t let a scammer surprise your child when they turn 18 only to find out their credit has been compromised over the years.