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Source: Mike Kemp / Getty

Capital One Financial became the latest big business to be hit by a data breach, announcing that nearly 100 million people had some personal information stolen by a hacker.

The alleged hacker, Paige A. Thompson, obtained Social Security and bank account numbers in some instances, as well other information such as names, birthdates, credit scores and self-reported income, the bank said Monday. It said no credit card account numbers or log-in credentials were compromised.

Capital One Financial joins Equifax who last week, announced a $700 million settlement over its own 2017 data breach that impacted half of the U.S. population. Other companies that have had breaches include the hotel chain Marriott, retail giants Home Depot and Target.

The data breach involves about 100 million people in the U.S. and 6 million in Canada.

Capital One said the bulk of the hacked data consisted of information supplied by consumers and small businesses who applied for credit cards between 2005 and early 2019. The hacker also was able to gain some access to fragments of transactional information from dates in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The bank said it believes it is unlikely that the information obtained was used for fraud, but the investigation is ongoing.

Capital One says 140,000 individuals had their Social Security numbers accessed, and another 80,000 had their bank account information accessed.

Capital One said it will reach out to those affected using “a variety of channels.”

That bank said it will make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to everyone affected. The company also said that consumers can visit www.capitalone.com/facts2019 for more information. In Canada, information can be found at www.capitalone.ca/facts2019 .

Consumers should also obtain copies of their credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. By federal law, consumers can receive a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three big agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Look over all of your listed accounts and loans to make sure that all of your personal information is correct and that you authorized the transaction. If you find something suspicious, contact the company that issued the account and the credit-rating agency.

You may also want to consider freezing your credit, which stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name. This can be done online. Consumers can freeze their credit for free because of a law that President Donald Trump signed last year. Before that, fees were typically $5 to $10 per rating agency.

You’ll need to remember to temporarily unfreeze your credit if you apply for a new credit card or loan. Also keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t protect you from thieves who file a fraudulent tax return in your name or make charges against an existing account.

You should also change your passwords regularly. CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman recommends using a password aggregator like LastPass that helps create strong, unique passwords for all of your logins.

Source: Associated Press

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