At the end of July 2019, most of you probably heard about a data breach at Capital One. More than 100 million people in the United States and Canada were affected by this event. Thankfully, as of this writing (mid-August), very little of the information was made available to the normal group of bad actors who dwell in the Dark Web. This breach was simply the work of a zealous former Amazon Web Services employee who knew that there was a way to access the data. Pretty freakin’ scary!

To make matters worse, the woman who performed this hack had also obtained information from other organizations. Somehow she made the monumental mistake of publicizing those details. I’m not sure what — or even if — she was thinking. But the fact that someone has the wherewithal to accomplish these feats of what most of us consider the “dark arts” of computing is supremely unsettling.

Why anyone would want to subject themselves to the notoriety of having accomplished this act, when there was no useful purpose, confounds me.

Around the same time, the Federal Trade Commission concluded its work with Equifax and fined them close to $700 million. Almost immediately afterwards, so-called “consumer advocates” started a loud chorus of “Sign up and get your $125 from Equifax!” on news stations and social media.

They did this without telling people the “fine print” of the FTC agreement said there is only $31 million in that particular reward pot. So if just half of the more than 146 million affected individuals filed a claim, each one would end up with about 42 cents. That is sheer stupidity!

The best approach for dealing with this debacle is to sign up for the free credit monitoring that is being offered. It is supposed to last for 10 years. Do that here: https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/file-a-claim.

Even though other forms of free monitoring are available, you usually only get one year. It is in your best interest — given the extent of the potential damage caused by the Equifax breach — to take the longest possible term of protection available.