Imagine this scary scenario for a minute. You log in to your online bank account to check your balance. And instead of having a positive balance, you are in the hole $2,000. Your first reaction is to think logically. So you try to remember if you recently made a large purchase, but maybe forgot about it. Then when you check the information about the charge, you notice the purchase was made in a completely different state–somewhere you’ve never been!
This scenario happens far too often, and far too many innocent people every year have to deal with credit fraud or identity theft. The definition of “credit fraud” is the illegal use of your accounts, while the term “identity theft” is opening a new line of credit using your information. Unfortunately, these types of crimes are vastly becoming the most common crimes of today. And the only way to prevent it from happening to you is to take preventative measures and the proper precautions.
However, even when credit fraud or identity theft occurs, sometimes it may be months or even years before you’re aware that someone else is racking up large credit card bills and spending your money. This is why it is important to arm yourself with the right knowledge and to monitor your credit as frequently as possible. Doing so, can save you a lot of pain and hassle in the end.
Below are some indicators of identity theft and credit fraud that you’ll want to take notice of:
- A creditor contacts you and tells you that they received an application in your name.
- You’ve been approved or denied credit at a place you don’t shop or didn’t apply for.
- You noticed you no longer receive credit card statements in the mail.
- You notice your credit card states show purchases or cash advances you never made.
However, you can lessen your chances of becoming a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft by safeguarding your credit account information. Don’t carry any additional credit cards, except for one that you may end up using. The more credit cards you have, the more likely it will be that someone may be able to get a hold of them. Always sign all of your credit cards and never sign a blank charge slip.
When you do use your credit card, keep sight of it. Don’t allow a store employee to take it in the back or out of your field of vision. Always, keep track of your receipts and store them in a safe box where no one else can find them. Make sure you destroy all carbon copies of receipts. Never allow a store or bank employee to write your credit card number on a check for identification purposes. And never give out your account number over the phone, unless you were the one making the call and know that the business is reputable.