Credit Fraud: How to React and Prevent Future ID Theft
What you don't know about keeping your credit information safe, can hurt you. Credit fraud and identity theft is becoming a major problem in our increasingly electronic world.
Whilst the advent of paper shredders went a long way to combatting the crime in years gone by, the internet and mass data transfer has given hackers and criminals another way to commit fraud. By far and away the best mode of attack on credit fraud is to prevent it in the first place, rather than attempting to counter and cure it. Luckily credit fraud can be prevented quite easily, if you are diligent and vigilant with your accounts and personal information; but it only takes a moment of forgetfulness to give criminals a chance to take advantage.
You might think that your cards and details aren’t enough to compromise your account, but canny thieves and criminals can infiltrate your identity with even the most basic information. Treat anything with your personal details on it like cash, keep it close and keep it safe.
When you take delivery of new cards, act quickly to avoid the security gap that is open during the overlap. Always register and sign to cards as soon as they arrive, and dispose of the old ones immediately.
When you’re travelling abroad, let your credit card company know so that they don’t freeze your accounts. A new method of identity fraud is occurring when criminals wait for victims to leave the country and then subsequently use their details whilst they are away; credit companies struggle to detect this and the victims will likely not notice until they return from vacation.
Try to keep your cards in a separate place to your wallet, and always try only to bring the card(s) you will need. Pickpockets will almost always go for your wallet and losing cash is the best case scenario for you, as it is a one-time limited loss. Losing your credit card to a professional fraudster can leave you with an incredible job of repairing a damaged credit score.
Needless to say, you should always inform the right people if you think that your account has been compromised. Loans taken out in your name without authorization can be the most damaging and most difficult to remove, though credit card payments are the most common and just as destructive for your credit score if you cannot reverse them.
U.S Law decrees that you are not responsibility for any charges made on your account once you have reported loss or theft. Staying vigilant and acting quickly can save you thousands of dollars, the window of opportunity that a thief has to run up bills is all dependent upon how fast you notice that your account has been compromised.
Fraud victims are able to add a “seven-year extended victim statement” to their credit reports, informing all creditors that any suspicious and reckless activity may be the result of unlawful activity taken out in the name of the unwilling consumer.