While the likelihood of somebody stealing your entire identity has gone down in recent years, complaints of fraud have been on the rise. In other words, thieves are less likely to attempt to completely assume your identity, but they are more likely to steel just enough information in order to use it for their own purposes. Roughly nine million Americans are victimized by identity theft in one way or another each year. Here are some things that you can do in order to prevent this from happening to you.
Avoiding Online Fraud
One of the biggest reasons for the increase in credit card theft is the emergence of the internet. It doesn’t matter if you are using cash back credit cards or a debit card, you are putting yourself at risk if you enter in your information without taking a few steps to verify your security.
The threat of making a purchase online shouldn’t be overstated. It is generally safe to buy things online, but there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe.
First of all, you should know who you are making the purchase from. Large, well known websites can generally be trusted. Before making a purchase, however, you should always check the site address in order to make sure that you are where you think you are. Site logos can be stolen and pasted on a false site, so verify the site address.
You can also check for security seals before making any purchase online in order to verify that the payment is going through safely. The bottom right corner of your browser should display a padlock that has been locked whenever you are asked for personal information.
Avoiding Phone Fraud
Never give out your personal information to somebody who calls you. It is safe to give this information over the phone, but only if you know exactly who you are talking to. If somebody calls you and asks you for your personal information, tell them that you will call them back at their corporate number to discuss the issue. If it is a legitimate call, they will understand why you are doing this.
Once a criminal has your credit card number, they can call you and pretend to be your credit card company. They may ask for personal information like your mother’s maiden name or even your social security number. They can use this information not only to use your credit card, but to take out additional loans and hurt your credit score, putting you in debt.
Protecting Your Cards
You should always keep your credit card and your other valuable information on hand when you are in public. This information should be where you can see or feel it at all times. When entering a PIN number at the store, cover your hand so that nobody can see what number you are entering.
Never leave your credit card in the car. It can be stolen, or the information on the card can be written down. Cut up old credit cards before you throw them away.
Take the same care to protect your children’s information. It is not unheard of for criminals to steel children’s social security numbers and use them to take out credit.