In late July, Capital One Bank announced that 106 million of its card holders had their data compromised in a massive breach. Among the victims, 140,000 customers had their Social Security numbers swiped and approximately 80,000 had their linked checking account numbers stolen. The company fixed the vulnerability immediately and promised to alert victims of the breach. In light of the multiple data breaches over the past few years, experts recommend that everyone, even those who are not Capital One credit card holders, take the following 5 steps to protect their information from hackers:
- Freeze your credit – Placing a freeze on your credit is the first and most crucial step you can take to stop scammers from using your information. A credit freeze will not affect your credit score, but it will let lenders and credit companies know you may have been a victim of fraud. You can freeze your credit at no cost at all three of the major credit bureaus, Equifax,TransUnion and Experian.
- Enable two-factor authentication – If you haven’t already, change all your logins to two-factor (also called “multi-factor”) authentication. Whenever possible, choose a non-password authentication method, like face recognition or thumbprint sign-in.
- Sign up for credit monitoring – Capital One is offering free credit monitoring for all victims of the data breach. You can find out more about this offer and general information about the Capital One data breach here. Even if you’re not a Capital One card holder, consider signing up for monitoring to prevent being a victim of a data breach in the future. The service will immediately notify you about any suspicious activity on your accounts.
- Use strong, unique passwords – Use strong passwords for all your accounts and use a different password for each. Your passwords should be at least eight characters long and use a variety of numbers, letters and symbols. Vary your capitalization use as well.
- Protect your devices – Never answer emails asking you to share sensitive data, even when they appear to be from legitimate companies. Make sure your devices are updated, and keep your spam settings on their strongest levels. It’s also a good idea to keep your social media accounts as private as possible.