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In 2018 over 440,000 Massachusetts residents were impacted by data breaches. This month Equifax reached a $700 million settlement as a result of a 2017 large-scale data breach. Yesterday, Capital One announced a major data breach affecting over 100 million consumers. If you have been a victim of a data breach there a steps you can take to protect your personal information.

  • Confirm the breach is real. Fraudulent data breach notification emails may direct you to a website to input your personal information. You can confirm whether a data breach is legitimate by researching articles from reputable news sources and contacting our toll-free consumer hotline at 888-283-3757.
  • Determine what information was stolen. Fraudsters may access personal information ranging from your name and credit card number to highly sensitive information like your social security number. The Federal Trade Commissioner offers tips and checklists based on the type of information exposed.
  • Accept the breached company’s offer(s) to help. If the company or organization experiencing the data breach offers help to protect you, unless issues have been identified with the offer, accept it. For example, Equifax is offering individuals affected by their 2017 data breach free credit monitoring or a one-time $125 payment.
  • Create new passwords for your online account. Immediately update your login credentials including passwords and security questions and answers for accounts involved in the data breach. You should also update your other accounts if they use similar login information.
  • Monitor your bank and credit card accounts online. Contact your financial institution if you suspect fraudulent activity.
  • Freeze your credit. This lets you restrict access to your credit report from business/persons who have already accessed it. Credit freezes and not permanent and you will be able to access your credit information as before, and after.

The Equifax and Capital One data breaches are two of the largest breaches in history. If you have been affected by either of them, this is what you need to know:

Equifax

You can find out if you are one of the millions affected by the Equifax data breach by simply providing the last six digits of your social security number and last name. Eligible consumers must submit a claim to receive restitution. Equifax is offering help in the form of monetary compensation and/or free credit monitoring depending on the level in which you were affected. Claim submission deadline is January 22nd, 2020.

Resources and announcements:

Capital One

Capital One announced a major data breach on July 29th and a suspect was subsequently arrested. Credit card customers and anyone submitting a Capital One credit card application between 2005 and 2019 may have been compromised. It is report that the system vulnerability was identified and corrected.

As of today, the data breach investigation is brand new. Affected individuals will be notified through various channels. Free credit monitoring and identity protection will be made available to everyone whose personal information was stolen.

Capital One posted a data breach facts webpage including frequently asked questions.

 

 

REMEMBER: you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company.

 

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry. If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

 

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