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Data Desk

Peterborough experts offer tips on how to protect yourself from a data breach

WATCH: Global News spoke with Peterborough cybersecurity expert Scott Williamson, who says consumers should be wary of scammers calling and claiming to be Capital One following the company's data breach.

Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud?

If so, you’re not alone. Peterborough County OPP Const. Joe Ayotte said data breaches are common and should be taken very seriously.

“You just have to keep an eye on any statements from your credit cards so you can monitor if any transactions are being made that you haven’t approved so it can be serious,” said Ayotte.

“It can also affect your credit, which will prevent you from getting a mortgage, loans, even prevent you from getting jobs.”

According to Jeff Thomson, an RCMP intelligence analyst at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, last year his company received just short of 10,000 fraud reports.

READ MORE: Peterborough woman scammed out of $13,000 involving Google Play gift cards

“These aren’t new. We’ve seen these things going back to the TJX Winners breach,” said Thomson. He’s referring to a data breach in 2007 where 45.6 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen from one of its systems at TJX Companies, over a period of more than 18 months by a number of intruders.

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“It’s personal and financial information sought out after by cybercriminals and criminals alike for the purpose of fraud.”

WATCH: Class action lawsuit launched after major Capital One data breach

Class action lawsuit launched after major Capital One data breach
Class action lawsuit launched after major Capital One data breach

With the recent data breach at Capital One, the company said it has been offering people free credit monitoring as compensation and that some people may be contacted.

However, Capital One said they won’t be calling individuals.

Global News spoke with Peterborough cybersecurity expert Scott Williamson, who says consumers should be wary of scammers calling and claiming to be Capital One in order to obtain your personal information, warning that consumers could fall victim to another scam.

How to find out if you’ve been breached

If you’re unsure whether you were affected by the Capital One data breach, be sure to contact credit card monitoring companies Equifax and TransUnion, which can monitor your credit report for free and tell you if you’ve been impacted.

According to Williamson, if your email was published or available publicly, it usually ends up on a site called have Have I been pwned.  Consumers can go to this website and put in their email address to check if their information has been compromised.

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The site will let you know if details including your dates of birth, email, name, phone number were part of a data breach.

READ MORE: Capital One data breach: here’s what Canadians need to know

What to do if you have fallen victim

Ayotte says it’s important to notify police if you believe you’ve been a victim of a data breach.

“Cancel your card, or at least lock it down,” he said. “You can freeze your credit so no one will be able to apply for additional loans in your name. Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and report it.”

Williamson said that if your results are positive on the ‘Have I been pwned‘ website, change your password to all online accounts and be sure to use passwords that contain at least nine characters and are not easy to guess.

If it’s available, he also suggests enabling multi-factor authentication.

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