On Monday, Capital One announced that more than 100 million customers had been hacked after someone gained access to credit card application data and other personal information. If the Capital One breach affected you, the company has reported that it will let you know via a "variety of channels." But there are a few other precautions you can take in the meantime.
Per MarketWatch, the hacker accessed a wide spread of delicate personal and financial information through this data breach. That includes credit scores, payment histories, dates of birth, email addresses, zip codes, and more. The outlet reported that around 140,000 customers' social security numbers were also hacked.
First things first: Capital One has confirmed that it will contact anyone affected by the breach. A statement released via the Capital One newsroom reads in part,
We will notify affected individuals through a variety of channels. We will make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to everyone affected. Safeguarding our customers' information is essential to our mission and our role as a financial institution. We have invested heavily in cybersecurity and will continue to do so. We will incorporate the learnings from this incident to further strengthen our cyber defenses.
Per that news release, Capital One revealed that the "largest category of information accessed was information on consumers and small businesses as of the time they applied for one of our credit card products from 2005 through early 2019." So if you applied for a credit card from Capital One between those years, you're likelier to have been at risk than if you applied earlier than 2005 — of course, that doesn't automatically mean your data was definitely stolen.
Beyond waiting to hear from Capital One, there are a few precautionary measures you can make to check if your account has been hacked. For example, you can go through your credit card statements for the year of 2019 and double check that there are no strange expenses anywhere. Per Today, you can also set an alert with a credit-monitoring agency, or sign up for additional data protection services like Identity Guard or LifeLock. These services work to see if your private information is on black-market websites or at other undesirable locations. For what it's worth, they do charge an additional fee for the service.
According to MarketWatch, you should also watch out for any questionable activity from those claiming to represent Capital One in the coming days, whether it's a voicemail or a text message. Instead, if you want to get in touch with a rep from Capital One, you can call the number on the back of your credit card or on your credit card statement.
Lastly, it's worth keeping in mind that there's a distinction between a "hack" and a "breach." Hacking specifically refers to the activity of people who intend to steal information; but a breach, according to MarketWatch's Quentin Fottrell, is "when data is unintentionally left unsecured and vulnerable to hacking." So in this case, there was a Capital One breach that led to a massive cyber hacking of information.
This isn't the first time millions of people have experienced a massive data breach, and it unfortunately may not be the last. However, the best thing you can do is keep a close eye on your credit card statement, and only share information when you know you're working in a safe and secure channel.