Occasionally, at the Adaware Malware Labs Team, we get rocked to our core by a news headline that comes across the wires. That is what happened the other night when every member of the team suddenly received a news alert about the massive data breach that had affected Capital One credit card holders in the United States and Canada. In fact, several members of the team had been affected directly from the breach. That got us thinking about what do you do if you are one of the many affected by this theft.
The data breach
On July 19th, Capital One discovered it had been hacked and that approximately 100 million Americans and six million Canadians were at risk for data exposure, not to mention that thousands of Social Security and bank account numbers had also been taken. The hack, which had reportedly taken place between March 22nd and March 23rd of this year by a Seattle area woman named Paige A. Thompson is considered one of the largest data breaches ever to hit a financial services firm. According to a company spokesperson, the costs to Capital is expected to be in the short term between USD 100 million and USD 150 million.
Capital One has said it’s “unlikely that the information was used for fraud or disseminated.”
What to do if your credit card was compromised
Do not panic
Remember, this could happen to anyone, anywhere.
Capital One has indicated that it would notify all of those who were affected by the breach. The company would offer them free credit monitoring and identity protection services. – It is important that you take advantage of those offers.
Check your credit card and financial statements as soon as possible
Review your credit card as well as financial statements, and report any suspicious activity to your financial institution right away.
Prevent future hacks
Change your passwords on all accounts as soon as possible, especially if you have multiple accounts that use the same password.
Freeze your credit report
By freezing your credit, no one will be able to access your credit reports without your permission. In other words, if someone tries to take out a loan in your name, banks can’t review your report so they won’t authorize the credit.
Stay alert – Monitor your credit
Cybersecurity attacks happen all the time, but some best practices could help protect your information in the future. Sign up for a credit monitoring service if you’re not offered one by the bank and are still worried.
You could also check your credit reports yourself to make sure fraudulent accounts haven’t been opened in your name – This can be done by a credit bureau like Equifax TransUnion.
Watch out for scams
Unsolicited emails or telephone calls: Do not respond to unsolicited telephone calls or emails from strangers. If you must call a person back, never use the telephone number provided in the letter or email. Always find a third source.
Phishing attacks: Do not click on any hyperlinks in emails from strangers. Be particularly careful of hidden hyperlinks that will activate when you mouse over them. These links may take you to a malicious website that contains viruses or some type of malware. Make sure that you have installed anti-malware software to help keep your system clean and prevent you from visiting hazardous websites.
The most effective way to protect your valuable data against identity theft is to regularly monitor your credit reports and be cognizant of any new accounts you don’t recognize.