Another day, another security breach. And another reminder to protect yourself.
Capital One Bank said Monday that some 100 million accounts were breached, putting many customers at risk. So what to do now? Start by immediately freezing your credit reports at the three major firms: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Begin by registering on the websites, and then look for the “security freeze” link. You’ll need to type in your name, address, social security number and home addresses.
The benefits of a freeze is that it prevents lenders from getting access to your credit report, which is mandatory for the credit card or loan application. It protects you in that the hacker who has stolen your personal information can’t open an account in your name and get access to the funds.
• Check your credit card statement to make sure there are no fraudulent charges. You don’t have to wait for the bill to arrive in the mail. Most banks have current statements available online. If you see a charge that shouldn’t be there, let the bank know immediately.
• Insurer State Farm recommends changing passwords immediately. Since your personal information is at risk, all it takes is one poor 1-2-3-4-5-6, or 0000, or yourname password from one account to let a hacker into all of your accounts. Experts recommend a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, and that each website you visit should have a unique password. You can use the same word, with a variation, like 1n0tE! 2n0tE! 3n0tE! and the like.
• Consider a Password manager. These tools help you remember all the various passwords you have. Apps like LastPass and Dashlane start at free, and charge $20-60 yearly, depending upon how many different devices you use them on.
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Equifax will pay Americans hit by breach: Take these steps to file claim for $125 or more