It’s an invasion of privacy that can affect you greatly, and you may not even know it’s happening. More than 13 million Americans fall victim to identity theft every year. One common way thieves steal from you is by accessing your credit card number. Here are seven ways to protect yourself from the threat.
1. Don’t Give Out Your Digits to Just Anyone
Treat those numbers carefully. Don’t give your credit card number over the phone unless you initiate the call. If someone calls you, take their name and extension and hang up. Then call the main number for whatever institution it is and ask for that person. Treat the actual credit card with care, too. Before you leave a store, restaurant or bar, check to see that it is back snuggled in your wallet.
2. Make Friends With the Shredder
This used to feel like overkill, but now it’s just par for the course. You need to shred any documents that have your financial information on them. Shredding ensures the documents are destroyed. If you’re not saving it in a secure spot, you need to shred it. Even pre-approved credit card applications contain enough information that someone could open a card in your name.
3. Say No to Password Storage
Your computer practically begs you to do it every time you log in to a website, but don’t be tempted. Don’t click on that “Remember me” function, especially for sites that link to or have information on your finances. This of course includes your banking websites but others like your email or favorite online shopping destinations.
4. Review Those Statements
Maybe you have scheduled online bill pay. You want to make sure you don’t get hit with any late fees so the money automatically goes from your bank account straight to the credit card company. That’s great – no one wants to pay late fees. But this shouldn’t be an excuse for ignoring what’s inside the statement. You want to review all the charges and make sure you made the purchases and they are for the correct amount. This will allow you to catch any potential fraud as quickly as possible.
5. Check Your Address
A common scam involves thieves changing your address. Sometimes they have the bills sent elsewhere so you don’t know someone is racking up debt in your name. Every once in a while verify your address with all credit card companies even if you haven’t moved.
6. Sign Up for Text Alerts
More and more banks and credit card companies allow you to get a text message when a purchase is made on the card. This way you can verify the purchases being made on your card are really from you or another authorized user.
7. Don’t Delay in Reporting
As soon as you notice anything suspicious, contact your credit card company. The faster you alert them to the fraud, the better. Immediately start making notes as to what the fraudulent purchases were and for how much.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email
- The Risks You Face From Identity Theft
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life
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