Finance

4 Ways To Avoid Credit Card Fraud And ID Theft

Identity theft has been an issue in our society since before the digital age, when fraudsters were duplicating checks by hand after stealing them out of victims’ mailboxes.

Nov 24, 2014

While ID theft and credit card fraud were a relatively small problem back in the day, it is extremely common in modern society. In light of the rash of security breaches at large companies that is only becoming more significant, we’ve put together a list of the top steps you can take to protect your identity from malicious individuals.

1. Be Careful Where You Swipe

One of the favorite strategies applied by credit card thieves is the use of “ATM phishers.” These devices fit over the card slot in an ATM or other card reading devices, blending in almost perfectly. When an unsuspecting user of the machine inserts his or her card, the phishing device also reads the card, sending the information contained in its magnetic stripe to a fraudster miles away.

Keep a watchful eye out for any changes in your regular ATM, particularly around the card slot. If you can, avoid using ATMs with which you are unfamiliar.

2. Avoid Carrying Unnecessary Documents

Many of us don’t think twice about leaving the house with multiple forms of ID, but this habit could result in an easy steal for a pickpocket or thief. A criminal who obtains your debit card alone might be able to make a few purchases on credit by forging your signature, but that’s about it. If the thief also obtains your passport and social security card, however, he or she could potentially do a lot more damage.

When you are traveling abroad or otherwise need to carry multiple forms of ID on you, keep everything in different places. This will prevent a pickpocket or thief from obtaining everything in one fell swoop.

3. Be Wary of Strangers

While many high-profile cases of identity theft involve hackers and complex digital attacks, the most common form of ID theft is relatively low-tech. Fraudsters will call, email or otherwise contact unsuspecting victims and claim to represent a bank or government organization. In order to “verify an account” or keep an account from “being deactivated,” they will ask for personally identifying information.

Banks and government organizations are not in the habit of calling customers and asking for personal ID. Never give out information of this sort to people on the phone unless you initiated the call and can therefore positively verify that you are speaking with a representative of the organization that you are trying to reach.

4. Be Careful Online

The Internet is a wonderful place where customers can buy almost anything. However, it is also very easy to be scammed by a website that appears to be legitimate. Even if the website you are on is careful with user data, viruses called “keyloggers” can infect your computer in order to catch every input you make on the keyboard – including your credit card number.

Be very careful to only do business online with companies that you trust. Most legitimate businesses will include a security verification. Regularly perform a virus scan and avoid entering your payment or identification details on a computer that you do not trust.

These are just a few ways to help avoid credit card fraud and ID theft.

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