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Sad as it is to say, there is no part of your cyber existence that is secure or safe from the craftiness of a hacker determined to get access. The breach of Capital One servers impacting more than 106 million people in the U.S. and Canada only serves as the latest example. Here are a few reminders to help minimize threats to your online confidential information.

Be alert for scammers posing as representatives from Capital One (or any financial institution). If you get an email or phone call requesting account information, your Social Security number or other personal information, it’s likely a scammer. Capital One has indicated that they will be contacting impacted customers by mail to inform them if their information has been compromised. Do not give out information on the phone, respond to email inquiries, or click links in emails. And remember, these scammers are very good at what they do. They sound genuine, their emails often have the company logos, but it’s a con. Be on alert.

You can monitor your credit reports for activity you don’t recognize such as new credit card accounts you didn’t open. Each of the three major credit bureaus provide a free credit report each year. Also watch your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity.

Credit monitoring services from paid services like LifeLock or free services like Credit Karma monitor your credit report for you and alert you if something unusual occurs.

You can set up a fraud alert if you have any reason to suspect fraudulent activity. Fraud alerts are set up with the credit reporting companies. This lets creditors know you may have been a victim of fraud and they will verify with you before opening any new credit requests. These alerts can be activated for 90 days or for an extended period of seven years. There is no impact on your credit score for issuing a fraud alert.

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Freezing your credit will prevent anyone, including you, from opening credit in your name. This must be done with each of the reporting companies independently and if you want to open a new credit card, for example, you’ll have to unfreeze your credit before being able to do so.

Report suspicious activity immediately to your credit card company’s fraud department. You are not responsible for fraudulent charges, but you must report it promptly.

Finally, it’s just good practice to retain paperwork in a system that works for you. You’ll also want to retain any correspondence or other documentation you may gather related to any suspicious activity.

The Federal Trade Commission offers valuable resources for consumers at www.ftc.gov

Readers can visit toyourwealth.com/resources-for-your-well-being/ to download tip sheets for Freezing Credit, Fraud Alerts and more.

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Michael Haubrich is a fee-only financial planner and certified senior advisor with Financial Service Group, a registered investment advisory firm at 4812 Northwestern Ave., online at www.ToYourWealth.com

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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