In the age of data breaches, Capital One is making it easier for you to track where and how your personal information is being used.
On Wednesday, the credit card issuer added three new consumer-friendly features to its credit-tracking program, CreditWise, which is accessible to everyone. For folks who want to track their personal information without shelling out a monthly fee, these updates could prove valuable. The features include:
- Alerts from Experian and TransUnion: These will notify you about meaningful changes on your credit reports, such as hard inquiries. (Previously, CreditWise users could get these alerts only from TransUnion.)
- Social Security number alerts: You’ll get a notification if your Social Security number is used to apply for credit. The alerts also note the names and addresses associated with credit applications linked to your SSN.
- Dark web alerts: The so-called “dark web” is a part of the internet that’s not accessible to traditional search engines, where personal information is illegally bought and sold. You’ll get notified if your SSN or email address is found here.
Capital One notifies you if your Social Security number is used to apply for credit. (Photo courtesy of Capital One.)
This isn’t the first time a credit card issuer has debuted services like these, but it is the first time a major issuer has made such features available to the general public for free. Last year, for example, Discover began offering Social Security number alerts, but only to cardholders.
“We think [the features are] going to do amazing things to help customers understand how to protect their personal information … and understand if that information may have been compromised so that users can quickly take action,” says Joe Whitchurch, head of CreditWise at Capital One.
He notes that in addition to offering alerts, CreditWise will also recommend steps you can take to respond. For example, if you think you might be a victim of identity theft or fraud, the program would suggest that you dispute credit report errors or consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report, among other steps.
To be sure, making these features available to everyone also benefits Capital One. CreditWise may look to match users with Capital One products, for example, the issuer notes.
If you want to try out these features, follow these steps:
- Set up a CreditWise account. You can do so via the CreditWise mobile app or on the CreditWise home page. To set up a CreditWise profile, you must provide a Social Security number, name, address and date of birth, Whitchurch notes.
- Monitor alerts. You can choose to receive these alerts by email or push notification.