Today, hackers can gain access to millions of people’s personal information such as name, address, date of birth, and even your social security number. In yet another breach, it has been reported that nearly 140,000 social security numbers were accessed, according to Capital One. Some financial experts say that this was inevitable, and the damage could’ve been way worse. When your sensitive credit information is stolen it can impact your credit score and your credit accounts. Keep reading to learn answers about the data breach and what you may be entitled to from the multi-million consumer settlements.
About the Data Breaches
A data breach at Capital One has left more than 100 million people exposed in recent years; although, according to Capital One, no credit card numbers or login information were released or obtained in the last hack.
This mirrors the prior big data breach with consumer reporting agency Equifax. In that breach, the stakes were a bit higher. In fact, that hack remained unnoticed by Equifax for more than six weeks. This data breach exposed the Social Security and other personal data of approximately 150 million people. This data breach was one of the largest ever to impact private consumer information. Equifax’s $700 million settlement with the government includes up to $425 million for consumers like you.
In most cases, Equifax is offering customers who were affected free credit-monitoring and identity-restoration services. You may also be eligible for the money you previously spent on these services. It is anticipated that the Capital One breach will see a similar result.
What might a hacker have stolen in the breach?
Both Capital One and Equifax stores everything related to your financial profile in internet-based systems. Which harbor information for millions of consumers’, including your:
- Name and address;
- Credit score;
- Email address and/or phone number;
- The amount owed to third party’s, and;
- Monitoring court judgments or liens against you
This compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, and credit card numbers. And left millions exposed. Equifax even reported over 3,000 passport images were also stolen in the data breach.
Cybercriminals can –and will certainly—use this personal information to commit identity theft, which can follow you for years impacting your ability to purchase or sell your property. Additionally, they may sell your information on the “dark web”.
How do I know if my information was affected?
If your information was in danger, Capital One or Equifax may reach out to you. However, make sure that your statements seem accurate and there isn’t any suspicious activity in your card. If so, contact your credit card issuer as soon as possible.
You can also consider placing credit freezes with the major credit reporting bureaus, which will help prevent cyber thieves from opening new accounts without your knowledge. Locking your credit report can help control who has access to it, but existing creditors can still access your report for account review needs. These credit freezes are free. Keep in mind you’ll need to temporarily lift the freeze if/when you need to apply for a new account, loan or a mortgage. Simply, unlock your Equifax or TransUnion credit report for a credit check. When done, simply relock your credit report with one-click.
If my information was involved, can I sue?
Capital One is being proactive by offering free credit monitoring and identity protection to those customers who were affected. Owen & Dunivan law firm can help you find a debt relief agency and can assist you with your credit card negotiations or legal action if your identity is stolen.
As of July 2019, the Equifax settlement was still pending approval by the U.S. District Court. Once the court approves the Equifax Data Breach Settlement; you can file a claim. You may have been emailed that you’re a potential claimant.
What have Equifax and Capital One done to protect customers?
Both companies have admitted that mistakes were made and have taken action to correct issues that allowed the data breaches to happen. This includes better monitoring, restricted traffic (even on internal servers), and increased control on who can access certain systems and data networks.
Additionally, Equifax began a free credit-alert service and offered customers more control over their online data. The company also removed high-level personnel who retired following the breach.
Tips to Monitor Your Credit
Even if your data made it unscathed in these breaches, it’s recommended that you always monitor your credit card statement for any unusual and suspicious activity. Immediately report any unusual activity to your bank or credit institution.
Additional steps you can take to protect your credit and identity are:
- If you are suspicious of fraud in your credit, immediately place a fraud alert within your credit card issuer. By setting up a fraud alert, any of the three major credit reporting agencies will notify you if anyone attempts to apply for credit under your name.
- You can always freeze your credit if you would to like to prevent anyone from opening other credit cards or loans under your name. You will have to request a freeze with each of the credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). It’s free, quick, and easy and can be done over the phone or online. When you freeze your account, no new charges can be added to your card.
- When shopping online, be aware that the website begins with “https”, this ensures that there are additional security features to protect your information. Keep in mind that whenever you purchase something with your credit card, there will always be some level of risk.
Protecting Your Private Information
With Capital One and Equifax breaches impacting millions of Americans, it’s unclear what may happen for some consumers in the future. All the sensitive data that was obtained during these data breaches may be used to steal your identity.
Your credit is highly important when it comes to your home and staying out of bankruptcy. We suggest you monitor your bank and credit card statements each month. Regularly checking your credit reports –you can set up email alerts- and report any unusual or suspicious activity you see.
If your information was part of the breach, credit monitoring companies may be in contact with you. If you would like a professional to oversee and review your financial accounts and explain how the data breach may impact your case, contact the consumer protection law office of Owen & Dunivan for more information.
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