Guide 2 Identity Theft - How To Protect Yourself
Guide 2 Identity Theft
What is Identity Theft
How It Happens
Types of Identity Theft
Commercial Identity Theft
Watch Out For
Credit Card Risks
Debit & ATM Cards
Spoofs & Phishing
Unsolicited Card Offers
Credit Reporting Agencies
If Your Identity Is Stolen
Guide 2 Identity Theft > Credit Card Risks
Credit Card Risks
Everybody knows that is very important to protect their credit card information. This is because the misuse of credit cards is the probably the biggest risk of identity theft for most people.
In the past, ordinary everyday use of your credit card was a big risk. It used to be easy for criminals to get your card's number, your name and the card's expiry date from the carbon slips in restaurant and retail waste bins. However, improved procedures are now making it much harder for them to obtain all the details that they need to use your card. This is because today's credit card transactions are generally electronic, and usually the retailer's copy of the receipt only shows an unusable part of your card's number. Retailers now track back with the banks, if necessary, using a separate transaction code, not your card number. Provided your card does not leave your sight – and it is wise to still be very careful about that – the risk of your details being stolen in in ordinary everyday use, has been much reduced.
Another security measure that has been introduced in recent years, is the extra little printed security code number (usually on the back, except on American Express cards). This number is now often required for card-holder not present transactions (internet, mail order or telephone). This number can help protect your card from thieves, because you need the card in your hand, not just a carbon copy slip, to know that number. However, the security number only protects you as long as you protect it: so protecting that number is another good reason for never letting your credit card out of your sight.
Another thing that you should do, is to make sure you sign a new credit card as soon as you receive it. Of course, more skilled thieves may attempt to copy your signature, but retailers risk losing money if they do not confirm at least a reasonable similarity between the user's signature and the signature on the card. Some credit card companies also offer the option of having your photograph appear on your card. If available, this option is worth taking because it makes using your card very difficult for a thief, much more so than fraudulently copying your signature sufficiently well to get past the checkout clerk.
It is easy to overlook the importance of keeping your credit card under your control, and in a secure place at all times. A category of identity fraud is the "NOOP" fraud, where the card is Not Out Of your Possession. You may not even be aware of the fraud. In this case the identity thief "borrows" your card to use it, then returns it. This type of fraud is sometimes carried out by a family member or by a work colleague.
Finally, watch what information you throw out with the trash. You should shred your old expired cards, card slips and statements before you toss them away. You should also apply the same policy to any other identity documentation you dispose of, and making this a routine practice will improve your security against identity theft.
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