Credit card theft or credit fraud affects millions of Americans every year. The Identity Theft Resource Center estimates that more than 10.7 million people are affected by ID theft annually. No matter how careful you think you are about protecting your accounts and keeping your credit card out of harm’s way‚ thieves employ many methods to get a hold of credit information.
How does it happen?
Credit fraud or credit card theft occurs when someone has obtained your credit card information (or even the physical card itself) and begins racking up charges under your name. There are many different ways you information can be acquired by a thief. Common points of theft can include:
- Mail theft
- Credit card skimmers
- Trashed credit card or bank statements
- Stolen or lost wallets
- Online theft
- Data breaches
Even leaving the receipt on the counter following a credit transaction could leave a thief with enough information to access your line of credit. One troubling statistic from the 2016 Identity Fraud: Fraud Hits an Inflection Point report by Javelin Strategy & Research shows that new account ID theft has increased by 113 percent, and now accounts for as much as one-fifth of all credit fraud. Identity thieves will go to great lengths to acquire a false identity, some even digging through the trash for documents with personal identifying information.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, some common warning signs of credit card theft include:
- Bills sent by unfamiliar sources
- Calls from creditors or collection agencies over unfamiliar transactions
- Notes on your credit report about accounts that you hadn’t opened
- Suspicious charges on your bank statements.
What can you do about it?
Given how prevalent credit fraud can be, it’s difficult for consumers to protect themselves for every possible situation. The best strategy is to be proactive about protecting your credit card and other vital personal information. Investing in a credit monitoring service can help you keep an eye out for potential threats to you identity. That’s where Identity Guard can help. With our variety of products, we specialize in helping people help protect themselves from identity theft. From a comprehensive credit monitoring program to a personal privacy protection plan, Identity Guard can help you find the right service to fit your needs and lifestyle.