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Consumer Reports: Capital One Breach is Reminder of Need for Stronger Security Laws

CR advises consumers to freeze their credit, check statements

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The credit card giant Capital One reported that a hacker gained access to 100 million customer accounts and credit-card applications this past spring, giving consumers yet another reason to lock down their credit.


Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst for Consumer Reports, said, “It’s very concerning because sensitive information like bank account numbers and Social Security numbers were disclosed, and they can be used to create new accounts.


“The first thing you should do is place credit freezes with each of the big three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to prevent criminals from opening new accounts without your knowledge.  Credit freezes are now free, and we should all use them in the wake of this massive breach.  Account fraud cost U.S. consumers more $3.4 billion last year alone, and it’s one of the most difficult types of fraud to detect and resolve,” Mahoney said.


Consumer Reports said Congress should approve tough legislation that would compel companies to protect consumer data more carefully.


Justin Brookman, director of privacy and technology policy at Consumer Reports, said, “In 2019, people should presume their financial data is compromised.  Congress should update our laws to freeze credit files by default, which would give consumers the power to control who can open accounts in their name.  You should have the right to decide whether someone is given permission to access your credit file.  Plus, Congress needs to pass stronger, broader security laws that provide for penalites for poor data security practices.”


Consumer Reports recommends five actions consumers can take after a data breach:


  • Freeze your credit


  • Check your financial statements regularly


  • Set up two-factor authentification for online accounts


  • Always be stingy in sharing your personal information.  The less data you give out, the less there is to be stolen. Consumers aren’t obliged to comply with every request for personal data.


  • Contact your members of Congress and ask for strong data privacy and security protections


Read more of Consumer Reports’ coverage of the Capital One breach here.


Contact: David Butler, 202-719-5916, dbutler@consumer.org

Consumer Reports is a nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For more than 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.