Credit Cards Application – Id Theft Protection
Identity Theft or ID theft – How to Prevent Your Identity From Stolen
The 2013 movie Identity Thief starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy may have been a successful comedy but the issue it brought to the forefront is far from being funny. The film tells a story about a man (Bateman) whose identity is stolen by a woman (McCarthy) and how his life is thrown in a tizzy. There is a happy ending to the movie but mostly in real life, Identity theft has destroyed lives.
Until not so long ago, Identity theft was one of those things, most people don’t seem to be very concerned about. Common thinking is that if it hasn’t happened to me, it doesn’t exist or that If I don’t use credit cards or shop on phone, I am safe or the worst, that it can’t happen to me. Well..!! the problem of identify theft does exist, it is more prevalent than most people think, everyone may be vulnerable and it is going to take a whole lot more, than not having the credit cards or not using them on phone or online, to protect yourself.
Every year, fraudulent charges cost banks and credit card companies billions and each of everyone has to pay for it as the banks merely transfer most of these costs to consumers. And that’s not it, the victims have to spend hundreds and sometime thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to clean their credit reports. This is still benign
considering what can happen if someone assumes your identity and engages in some criminal activity while going undetected for a long time. Have you ever received an e-mail with your bank/internet provider or some trusting e mail address or received a phone call telling you that you have won a sweepstakes or that your bank is just making a courtesy call for some reason and before they can talk to you they need to confirm your personal information; or you may have written a check at checkout counter of a store. Unless you are careful anyone of these simple looking day to day stuff can result in a criminal mind acquiring your most personal information.
Lets review a simple action such as writing a check at a store; Have you ever thought how much information is being passed on to people you don’t know while you write a simple check. Well..!! lets see… your name, address and bank account # is on the check for starters…..when sometimes your phone # is not listed, the clerk asks you for your home and work phone numbers (it is not legal in lot of states but you don’t have to provide it even if it is) and they write it on the check. Then you might have to show your driver ‘s license (which incidentally has your date of birth) to establish your id. The clerk writes the driver’s license number (SS# in lot of states) on the check. …In less than a couple of minutes, the check writer might have handed a criminal mind what they are looking for. Then from this point on your information is going pass through probably hundreds of hands and anyone of them can potentially misuse it. This information may be good enough to obtain a bank account, a credit card or a phone and the list goes on and on…Well…!! Enough said…!!!
No that you knw how important it is to protect ID theft. there is however no need to get overally paranoid but just be careful. The following 7 tips may help you reduce the risk of being one of the approximately 500,000 victims of identity theft every year.
1. Guard your Social Security number
The most important step is to guard your Social Security number. It is “the” key to your credit report and banking accounts and is the prime target of criminals. Do not print your Social Security number on your checks. Do not provide social security number to anyone you don’t know on phone or online. After applying for a loan, credit card, rental or anything else that requires a credit report, request that your Social Security number on the application be truncated or completely obliterated and your original credit report be shredded before your eyes or returned to you once a decision has been made. A lender or rental manager needs to retain only your name and credit score to justify a decision.
2. Monitor your Credit Card Statements Regularly
Pay close attention to individual charges and certainly the ones that stand out on your monthly credit card statements. Lot of times identity thief will try smaller purchases or expenses before going for the big one. If something doesn’t look familiar must ask the credit card issuer immediately.
3. Set Alerts on your Credit Cards
Setting alerts on your credit cards is very critical. Credit card issuer can notify you of any activity above a certain amount or other information that maybe critical to stopping a criminal activity before it spreads to other aspects of your life
4. Monitor your Credit Report Regularly
Credit reports can alert you to activity in your financial records. A monitoring service, such as Privacy Guard, will notify you whenever someone applies for credit in your name or checks your credit history. Order your credit reports and check for any unusual activity. There are numerous Web sites that let you order your report, in some cases free of charge. It might be useful to get reports from all three agencies as the reviewer (lenders/employers/rental managers) maybe using any one of the three reports. Click here for your 3 in 1 credit report.
5. Remove your name from marketing lists
All credit bureaus maintain marketing lists that may contain your information. Contact the agencies to remove your name from the lists. You can sign up for no call registry. You also should add your name to the name-deletion lists of the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service used by banks and other marketers. Removing your name from these lists reduces the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive.
6. Keep duplicate records
Keep duplicate records of your license and credit cards so you have all the account numbers, expiration dates and phone numbers in case your wallet or purse is stolen. In the event of a theft, cancel your credit cards etc. right away.
7. Get a low credit limit credit card for travel or phone purchases
Most credit card issuers will issue second card with very low credit limit that you can carry when you travel or use it when you make phone or online purchases. Also it might be worth it to keep credit limit on your regular credit card to a reasonable amount.
8. Watch where and how you mail your bill payment
Do not leave the mail with bill payments in mail-box for postman to pick it up for you . It is an attractive convenience for you but it is even more attractive opportunity for identity thief to steal your checks with your information on it. Not only you are in a danger of losing your identity but also potentially miss on the important payments that go on your credit report. If you must, don’t leave them in the mail box overnight. Try to either hand deliver it to the mail carrier or leave them in the mail box during the day time.
9. Invest in a good quality Shredder
Don’t throw your old bills, credit card solicitation, old credit card/bank statement etc. intact in the garbage. Shred them with a good quality shredder before disposing them off.
There is no guarantee that an individual would not or can not be a victim of identity theft, but taking these steps above certainly reduces the potential of one becoming a victim of identity theft.
Credit Cards Application – Id Theft Protection