Identity theft is a big problem in America. It’s estimated that it’s about a $3 trillion per year problem, to be specific. Identity theft can hurt credit scores, cost you money, and even harm your reputation.
While there are a number of scenarios that identity thieves might use to get personal information and take advantage of you financially, one of the most common avenues is through credit card theft.
Protecting credit cards is the first step in protecting your identity. Here are some of the best ways to avoid credit card fraud:
Look for SSL
There are some very basic steps you can take to keep credit cards safe when you’re buying things online. Yet, a surprising number of people miss these very basic things. The best example of this is SSL. Look to see that a site is secure before you put in a credit card number. The address will start with “https”, and the web browser probably has some indicator, as well, such as a closed lock.
Research Reputations of Online Vendors
You’re going to be pretty safe with buying something from Amazon.com. But buying something from discountpetandmedicalsupplies.com might be a different story. Take five minutes before you make a first-time purchase from any website to do a little reputation research. This will not only help you to avoid fraud and identity theft, it will also help you to avoid buying an awful product.
Keep Credit Cards Within View
This is a tough one to follow. Sure, it’s easy enough to keep your eyes on your credit card when you’re paying for gas at the pump or going through the line at the grocery store. But it’s harder to see your credit card when you hand it to a server at a restaurant, or when the hotel clerk has to take the card to the back room to run it. Try to use cash in those situations where the credit card might leave your sight.
Credit Card Skimming
Credit card skimming is one a newer technique used by identity thieves to steal credit card information. Essentially, it involves gathering credit card information using technology. For example, a skimmer might install a device at an ATM machine that will read your credit card number when you swipe it. There might even be a small camera hidden nearby to capture your PIN number. If an ATM or credit card machine looks suspicious, don’t use it.
Review Credit Card Statements
Most of us are guilty at one time or another of neglecting our credit card statements. This is just asking for trouble. Review your statement every month. Pay attention to small transactions that you don’t recognize. In some cases, an identity thief might charge just a few dollars to your account to make sure it’s legitimate, and then charge more later on. Be diligent about reviewing your credit card statements each month.
These steps won’t guarantee that you won’t become a victim of identity theft, but they will make it harder for an identity thief to get to you via your credit cards.
About the Author
David Rodwell is a seasoned writer in business and economics, taking a particular interest in payment processing. You can find more of his articles located at CreditCardProcessing.net.