Many readers have reached out to learn about the Capital One data breach and how it affects us. If you haven’t been watching the story unfold as closely as I have, here is a summary of what happened, what information was included, and what to do about it.

Capital One announced on July 29 that a hacker gained access to the personal information of approximately 106 million credit card holders and applicants which was stored with a Cloud provider, which included some 140,000 Social Security numbers, about 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers, and 80,000 bank account numbers, with the largest category of information accessed being “consumers and small businesses as of the time they applied for one of our credit card products from 2005 through early 2019,” according to Capital One. The access was allegedly through an improperly configured firewall.

The consumers and small businesses information accessed through this data breach included names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, reported income, credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, and email addresses.

The company is offering free credit monitoring and identity protection services for those affected. The problem that I am hearing from readers is, unless you have a Capital One credit card right now, how do you remember if you had one in the past, or if you ever filled out an application (since 2005), or if Capital One had your data as a result of data sharing that is allowed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act?

For those of you who have a Capital One credit card, you should assume that your information was breached and take appropriate precautions, including putting a credit freeze on your credit account, closing your credit card account, and watching your statements closely, to name a few. For those of you who aren’t sure, the same measures are good cyber-hygiene to protect yourself from fraud or identity theft.

Capital One has been sued in class action lawsuits and is the subject of several State Attorneys General investigations. The Department of Justice has arrested a suspect in Seattle.