There are ten basic ways that thieves can obtain your credit card information or your physical credit card for identity fraud. Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself against each of these threats.
Simple theft: A crook can reach into an open car or house window and grab your purse or wallet. Or, you leave your wallet or purse unattended for a moment only to turn around and find it gone.
Protection: This is a tricky one, because it can be easy to lose track of your things for a moment. Just be extra careful locking car and home doors and windows, and only keep what is absolutely necessary in your purse or wallet. Leave extra credit cards at home in a safe place.
Employee records: Your employer often has your personal information and potentially credit card information. In some cases an identity thief can access this information.
Protection: Ask your employer how your information is stored and protected from identity theft. Make sure the appropriate security measures are in place to protect your personal financial information.
Change of address: Thieves sometimes file change of address requests to redirect your personal mail to another mailing address. In this case, they are effectively stealing your mail and have access to personal and financial information including credit card information.
Protection: Keep an eye out for a change of address notification that should arrive in your mailbox. This could be stolen too, though, so inquire with the post office if you notice that your mail is not being delivered as usual.
Social Media:Thieves can use personal information they find about you on public social media profiles to access your credit card information. With answers to your security questions, thieves can sometimes update passwords and access credit card accounts.
Protection: Never use bank security questions with answers that could be easily found on your social media profiles. For example, the name of your dog or the city you were born in should not be used for security questions.
Mail Theft: Thieves can easily steal mail from unlocked residential mailboxes and obtain a plethora of information for credit card fraud. Bank statements sometimes contain complete credit card information, and credit card companies often send unsolicited courtesy checks that can be written against your line of credit. Also, thieves can grab bill payments and get all your CC info in just seconds.
Protection: Never send sensitive mail from an unlocked mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay.
Dumpster Diving: Thieves sometimes search through trash to steal financial information, too. This is typically the same information that comes in your mailbox, and if you throw it out, it can leave you vulnerable.
Protection: Use a cross-cut paper shredder to destroy personal or financial information before discarding it.
Shoulder Surfing: Thieves may stand over your shoulder and read or take a photo of your credit card number. This has most of the information they need to duplicate your credit card or make online purchases.
Protection: Be aware of your surroundings and don’t allow people to shoulder surf behind you.
Phishing Calls:A thief calls you and pretends to be your financial institution needing to verify account information or details.
Protection: Never give financial information out over the phone to someone who calls you. Hang up the phone and contact your bank directly.
Pickpockets: These adept thieves are able to steal your wallet or purse off your person without you noticing.
Protection: Keep your wallet or purse out of sight.
Cloned Cards:Thieves can use your credit card number on a cloned card, even while your credit card is still in your possession. They do this by obtaining your credit card numbers by one of the above methods, and burning them onto blank cards that can be purchased online.
Protection: Prevent a thief from gaining access to your credit card numbers with vigilance and consistent practice of the above protection strategies.
Be wary of unsolicited USPS confirmation letters
When you request a change of address, the USPS will send a confirmation letter to both your former and current address via postal mail. So, if you receive such a letter without having recently applied for a change of address, then most probably someone is trying to change your address fraudulently. Don’t hesitate to notify USPS that you didn’t request an address change.
Keep track of your mail
If you normally receive a lot of mail and that number starts dwindling, or occasionally you don’t receive the mail you expect, chances are your mail is going to another address. The earlier you address the concern with USPS the better.
Check your credit reports regularly
We’ve seen that identity thieves can use information from the diverted mail to open new credit accounts in your name or use the existing accounts to perform fraudulent activities. When you review your credit reports regularly, you can easily identify any inconsistencies and address them before any significant damage is done.