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Capital One Urges Consumers to Arm Themselves with Information during National Consumer Protection Week

February 8, 2006 at 10:43 AM EST

MCLEAN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 8, 2006--

Capital One's Financial Education Program Offers Tips Consumers Can Use to Fight Fraud and Improve Their Credit

Capital One (NYSE:COF) joins a group of government agencies and national consumer advocacy organizations in support of the eighth annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), February 5-11, 2006. The year's efforts focus on educating consumers about the dangers of fraud and improving credit awareness. In support of Consumer Protection Week, Capital One offers practical guidance and tips to help educate consumers and protect them from becoming victims of fraud.

"Capital One applauds the efforts of the Federal Trade Commission and other organizations involved with National Consumer Protection Week," said Diana Don Colby, director of financial education for Capital One. "Whether it's learning to spot the danger signs and understanding how to protect against fraud, or taking steps to improve your credit score, efforts like these empower consumers to take control of their personal financial situation and make smarter financial decisions."

Capital One provides a broad range of financial education efforts programs designed to a reach and teach consumers at various phases of life. In support of National Consumer Protection Week 2006, Capital One is offering practical advice and tips to help inform consumers and protect them against fraud.

Fraud and Identity Theft

Credit card fraud and identity theft are crimes that can be extremely frustrating, costly and time consuming for victims. Any unauthorized use of your credit card is considered fraud. While identity theft is much less common, it takes fraud several steps further. With identity theft, criminals steal and use other personal information - such as social security numbers or birthdates - to assume your identity and make purchases, or to open up credit card or other accounts, in your name.

Regularly reviewing your credit report is one of the most important ways to protect against fraud and identity theft. Credit reports are the equivalent of a consumer's personal financial report card. They detail a consumer's credit history and include the types of credit a consumer has, his/her account history, and the frequency of on-time payments. Don Colby recommends that consumers also familiarize themselves with these credit basics:

  • Review Credit Reports: Obtain regular copies of your credit report to protect against fraud and identity theft and to ensure that all account information is accurate. Consumers everywhere are eligible to request a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These free reports are available online from www.annualcreditreport.com.

  • Understand Credit Scoring: A credit score is a three-digit number (generally ranging from 300 to 850). The higher your credit score, the better credit risk you present to potential lenders. The credit scoring process is complex. Fair Isaac Corporation determines credit scores, also known as a FICO score. The company uses a variety of factors to determine a score including the length of your credit history, your payment history, and the amount of debt you currently owe, among others.

Elder Fraud Awareness

Instances of identity theft and fraud against America's senior citizens are also on the rise. The latest data from the Federal Trade Commission estimates that 25 percent of seniors aged 50 and older filed complaints about identity theft in 2005. Frauds such as home improvement scams, caregiver fraud, foreign lottery prizes and sweepstakes, and fraudulent billing are also rising, and are just a few of the scams targeting senior citizens.

All forms of fraud can be frustrating and complicated to correct. MoneyWi$e, Capital One's financial literacy partnership with national non-profit organization Consumer Action, offers the following consumer tips to help minimize the risk of becoming a victim:

  • Protect your personal information: A simple way to prevent fraud or identity theft from plaguing your finances is to protect your personal information. Keep social security numbers and credit cards in a safe place, where you will immediately know if they are missing. Do not share any personally-identifiable information with someone over the phone or via email - unless you initiate the contact.

  • Shred personal information: Never leave receipts and carbons behind where someone could pick them up - especially ATM, supermarket and self-service gasoline pump receipts. Safeguard your receipts, bank/credit card statements and utility bills. Don't simply throw them in the trash or recycling bin - shred them when you no longer need them.

  • Report cases of identity theft and/or fraud: Fraud is a crime and should be reported to the police and law enforcement agencies. In its latest data, the Federal Trade Commission reports that 61 percent of identity theft victims that filed complaints did not notify the police department to file a police report. If your credit card or wallet has been stolen, file a police report and contact one of the three major credit bureaus - Experian, TransUnion or Equifax.

For more information and protection tips, consumers can visit www.money-wise.org or www.capitalone.com/financialeducation.

About Capital One

Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank, Capital One, F.S.B., Capital One Auto Finance, Inc., and Hibernia National Bank (www.hibernia.com), offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. Capital One's subsidiaries collectively had $47.9 billion in deposits and $105.5 billion in managed loans outstanding as of December 31, 2005. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 500 index.

CONTACT: Capital One Financial Corporation, McLean
Alison Athay, 206-239-0140
aathay@apcoworldwide.com

SOURCE: Capital One Financial Corporation