Preventing Identity Theft And
Credit Card Fraud:
Protect Your Credit Information
By Ed Vegliante
According to a recent poll by Experian, one in five
Americans has reported they have experienced some form of identity theft. If it
happens to you, and your identity is stolen, you might be in for a lengthy
hassle that could cost you your credit rating and leave a permanent blight on
your financial records.
How Credit Card Theft Starts
Thieves start by targeting your personal information: Social security
numbers, bank statements, tax reports, credit card debit information and
passwords, or even your checkbook. Donít leave this valuable information lying
around at your office, or in your car. Be aware that you are leaving a door open
for anyone to get access to your bank account or credit card information.
Question anyone who asks for your credit information, including employers; find
matter how insignificant they may seem to you. In addition, donít ever lend your
credit card to ANYONE, including family members, unless you are willing to take
on their debt personally. Many family arguments have ended up in court with
bitter feelings from one time casual credit card or debit card lending that got
out of hand. When you apply for a credit card, be certain that their online
application is secured, and the privacy notice is posted.
Spotting Signs of Identity Theft
* If youíve frequently been missing your credit card bill, or your mail
keeps getting ďlostĒ contact the post office immediately. If you live in an
apartment complex , find out from your superintendent or manager if you can
change your mailbox key. A missing bill could mean that an identity theft has
occurred and the billing address has been changed.
* If youíre suddenly getting credit cards (not just a credit card offer)
from companies that you didnít apply. Call these companies and find out if you
are the account holder; if not verbally cancel the account and follow up with a
* If youíre being denied credit, or your credit card terms are suddenly
being changed to higher interest terms, for no obvious reason.
* Youíre suddenly getting phone calls and letters from creditors about
purchases you did not make.
How to Protect Your Credit Information
The best protection is constant awareness of the use of your credit
information. Choose your passwords carefully. Avoid using any easily available
information, such as your motherís maiden name, your birth date, the last four
digits of your SS#, or your phone number. If you must use this type of
identifier in opening an account, request a password change immediately after
opening the account before it slips your mind. Secure your credit information at
all times, even around your house--if youíre having work done on your home, or
if youíre having a big party, or your roommate brings home guests. Donít give
out any information unless you know exactly how it will be used and by whom.
The Best Defense for Your Credit Security:
Stay vigilant. Review your credit card statements every month, and question
any suspected purchases by contacting your credit card issuer directly. If you
suspect an unauthorized purchase, send a letter to your credit card issuer
detailing the item in question and any reference numbers. The credit card issuer
is required to investigate your claim and report back to you, in writing, of
their findings. You can also request a free annual monitoring report from each
of the major consumer reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. A
recent amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that these credit
reporting companies provide these reports to you at your request, every 12
Itís your credit. Protect it!
Ed Vegliante is the owner of
http://www.credit-card-surplus.com , a well organized credit card directory
enabling the user to compare and apply for a variety of credit credit card
offers. Find links to secure online credit card applications.