Here we go again: Dealing with a new, massive data breach

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

In 2017, some 147 million Americans had their personal financial information exposed by the Equifax data breach.

It was deja vu Monday, when Capital One announced that nearly as many, about 100 million, credit card applications had been compromised, leaving about 77,000 bank account numbers and 140,000 Social Security numbers vulnerable to use by identity thieves.

Yes, you may have free credit monitoring via your credit card, bank for other financial institution, but you might not give it a second thought -- until it’s too late.

Once that happens, as financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “you’ve got a new hobby,” attempting to restore your good financial standing.

Personal finance website WalletHub offers some common-sense advice:

-- Sign up for 24/7 credit monitoring, which will let you know right away if someone tries to open an account in your name. The site does this free for TransUnion accounts.

-- Enable two-factor authentication on your cell phone when logging in to your email or bank.

-- If in doubt, a freeze is better than an alert. If you’re really concerned, freeze your three major credit reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) so no one can take out a loan or line of credit. You’ll have to unfreeze one or more if you need to apply for a loan or line of credit.

-- If you find a credit report inaccuracy, you should “suppress” or “block” them to get rid of negative information from identity theft. Otherwise, they may reappear in a later report.

-- Never respond to unsolicited requests for information. If you didn’t ask to be contacted, don’t give out any personal information.

While Capital One was the victim this time, all major credit card companies are under constant attack from hackers who get through once in a while.

The company has been especially open about the current problem, and is likely to be more diligent than ever going forward.

Never the less, if you’ve applied for a credit card with Capital One recently, you should carefully consider taking the advice listed above.

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