What to Do If You’re a Worried Capital One Customer
Capital One is the latest company embroiled in a massive security breach, with the financial giant reporting that a hacker gained access to the personal data of approximately six million Canadian customers. This continues a pattern of these incidents, following last month’s Desjardins data breach.
With security hacks becoming a fairly regular occurrence these days, sometimes it can seem you’re solely at the mercy of your bank’s oversight, or lack thereof. But luckily there are actions that you can personally take to safeguard your data.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Account
A fraud alert is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself if you’re worried that your data may have been compromised. If a creditor pulls your credit report and sees a fraud alert, the creditor must take the extra step of confirming your identity. This can stop criminals from fraudulently opening credit accounts, such as credit cards and lines of credit, in your name.
Sign Up for Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Protection
Credit monitoring allows you to regularly review your credit history for changes. Although credit monitoring won’t prevent fraud, you’ll be the first to know if someone fraudulently applies for anything in your name and you can then report it to the authorities. You might also consider signing up for identity theft protection, which generally provides you with coverage/compensation in the event that you’re the victim of identity theft.
I don’t recommend paying for these through a third party, as it is Capital One’s responsibility to make up for its security lapse and provide these services to customers for free. If Capital One hasn’t already contacted you and informed you of how to sign up for these services, get in touch with its customer service department and tell them you expect these safeguards.
Sign Up for Real-Time Alerts
Most credit cards let you sign up for real-time alerts, notifying you whenever a purchase is made. You can also set limits to prevent purchases above a certain amount.
Change Your Passwords
Capital One reports that passwords weren’t compromised, but it’s still a good precaution to change your passwords nonetheless. When you change your passwords, don’t choose something that’s easily cracked (like your mother’s maiden name). It’s a good idea to use randomly generated passwords, which will likely combine upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Also, try to get in the habit of changing your passwords every few months.
Regularly Review Bank Account and Credit Card Statements
Even if you’ve checked off all of the above, it’s always possible for something to slip through the cracks of automation, and it’s a good idea to regularly review bank account and credit card statements manually. Instead of simply checking the balance (for your bank account) or the total amount due (for a credit card statement), take the time to check line by line for suspicious purchases that you don’t recognize.
Consider Switching Banks or Credit Cards
Sometimes good banks make mistakes, and I advise you to give Capital One a chance to reconfigure its security protocols and make up for its error.
But if this data breach has made you question the trust you’ve placed in Capital One, and you find Capital One’s response to the incident to be insufficiently contrite, you can always shop around for another Canadian bank or credit card that has a more sterling reputation for protecting customer data.