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What to do about Capital One’s gigantic data breach

CapitalOne_Bank exteriorA massive data theft at Capital One exposed personal information, in some cases including Social Security numbers, of more than 100 million people. It’s the largest amount of data stolen from any bank to date. 

Consumers should assume that their Social Security number has been exposed between this breach and breaches of other major companies’ databases, such as Equifax’s, said Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG’s federal consumer program senior director.

U.S. PIRG recommends all Americans should freeze their credit reports for free to safeguard their financial security. Click on the following link for details on how to do this: https://uspirg.org/feature/usp/freeze-your-credit. 

“The Capital One breach impacting 100 million Americans is the largest-known breach of a bank,” said Mierzwinski. “The hacker stole people’s credit applications which help make up their financial DNA – and in some cases included Social Security numbers. This information could be used to steal our identities or drain our finances.”

Coming on top of the settlement of the massive Equifax data breach, the Capital One breach should serve as a wake-up call to all consumers to hit freeze on their financial identity today to ensure they are protected, he said. Credit freezes are free under federal law.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday that although Capital One’s breach was internal, safeguards were missing that allowed for the illegal access of consumers’ personal information.

“It is becoming far too commonplace that financial institutions are susceptible to hacks, begging the questions: Why do these breaches continue to take place? And are companies doing enough to prevent future data breaches?” James said.

She said her office will begin an immediate investigation into Capital One’s breach.

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