Are you paranoid about those plastic cards in your pocketbook? If not, perhaps you should be. You may think nobody wants to steal your identity, and while that may be true, there are plenty who want to steal your credit card. If you aren’t careful, you’re likely making it easier for them do so. A study by financial service firm Javelin Strategy & Research shows that over twelve million Americans were victimized by identity theft in 2012 alone.
Protecting yourself is simpler than you think. Below are eight ways you might be putting yourself at risk:
- Carrying all your credit cards. Carry only the cards you need and store inactive cards. This ensures that if your purse/wallet is stolen, you will have less trouble contacting banks to close at-risk accounts before thieves can use them.
- Checking accounts via open wireless networks. Portable technology makes it convenient to check balances and pay bills anywhere. However, if you aren’t locked into a secured network, you have just invited the world into your account, sacrificing the security of your sensitive information. Even if you use a password to access your account, be sure you only log on through a secured network, and preferably from your home computer.
- Giving credit card information over the telephone. When placing a phone order or make a payment, it makes sense that you would provide your credit card number. But beware of anyone calling you and requesting such information. Representatives looking up an account for you should have other means of access.
- Answering unsolicited communications. Be wary of requests such as texts, e-mails, and Facebook messages containing links and asking you to log in and confirm your account. These are often phishing scams and the links take you to an unverified site that steals your information. If you aren’t sure of the request, contact your financial institution to verify if anything requires confirmation.
- Ignoring monthly billing statements. Check every credit card bill, even when you haven’t used your card, to verify suspicious activity. Ignoring it can leave you with a mountain of “grey charges” built by theft. Regular review can help you avoid a long battle.
- Throwing away billing statements. Statements usually display your credit card number, address, and other information that can be used to make purchases or steal your identity. Shred documents before discarding them.
- Assuming you’re fine because your credit is good. Consumers with better credit are more likely to be victims of identity theft because fraudsters can get approved for more credit cards due to your high credit score.
- Failing to change your address when you move. Setting up a forwarding address isn’t enough. You must contact all your financial institutions to notify them of your new address before your move so no sensitive information is left behind.
It’s a fact that some of us will be caught in the web of identity and credit card fraud. Contacting a credit repair agency such as Ovation can help you get back on track.