How To Protect Your Credit & ID
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. Thieves steal personal information such as social security numbers and birth dates to commit fraud. They can apply for lines of credit, credit cards, mortgages, and they can even file taxes and get medical services! There are networks that sell people’s information on the “dark web”, these are not Google pages per se, but the ease with which someone’s personal information can be purchased is highly disturbing.
To further compound the issue we often hear of data breaches that take place at the most trusted institutions. Everyone’s heard of data breaches at Anthem, Ebay, JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Target, and CitiBank just to name a few. In fact, Citibank was breached twice in less than five years, the most recent breach was in December of 2016!
A person’s file complete with name, address, date of birth, social security number, employer information, mother’s maiden name, name of first pet, etc. sells for as little as $50. Needless to say, it’s of critical importance for you to take any and every necessary step to thwart any attempts of identity theft.
Some thieves have high tech equipment and they can recreate credit card offers to mail their unsuspecting victims. People unknowingly enter ALL of their personal information including their mother’s maiden name and the thieves can now cause major havoc. Children and newborns are also aggressively targeted by identity thieves. They are significantly easier targets because they have no previous activity and parents don’t generally expect their newborns to be targeted so there is practically no monitoring for children.
When it comes to credit card fraud it’s important to note that consumers often get stuck paying. For example, many Citibank customers who notified the fraud department still got stuck paying interest on the bogus charges because it usually takes ten days for the investigation to be conducted and the charges to be removed. But in the meantime consumers complain that they are stuck paying ten days of worth of interest on fraudulent charges.
As a precautionary measure it’s highly advisable for you to have top quality credit monitoring. For a small monthly fee you can stay on top of your credit report in real time. This will allow you to see if any suspicious activity is taking place on your report. You can also notify the credit repositories to put an alert on your file and you can request a phone call to your cell phone whenever you (or someone pretending to be) apply for credit. For example, a thief can apply for a credit line at Best Buy with your information, but when you receive the call you can instruct the employee that the person in front of them is not you. Best Buy may or may not call the police but at least you will have managed to protect yourself from an unscrupulous thief.
In our high tech society there are also scanners that can pick up your credit card or debit card information. These are often used at restaurants and ATM machines. Thieves will always exist, but you can take steps to protect yourself. An RFID credit card wallet that encrypts your card’s information will help protect your information. While credit monitoring is a monthly subscription fee, it does allow you to take immediate action to thwart any suspicious activity that is happening in your name and as such monitoring is a necessity. To further strategize a protection plan do contact one of our Council’s experts today.