Just because you may not actually lose track of your valued piece of plastic, credit card theft can happen without a thief ever actually getting their hands on your wallet. Just getting access to the basic information displayed on your credit card allows a thief to go on a shopping spree, leave you with a hefty debt burden, damage your credit score and even possibly result in larger identity theft.
When you’re going back to school, you are especially at risk for identity theft simply because of all the shopping you are likely to be doing. Whether you are a parent buying your kids back-to -school clothes online or a returning college ordering textbooks and dorm gear, chances are you’re going to be putting your credit card number online at some point.
- Stick with sites you know – Do your research before you make a purchase to ensure that you are buying from a legitimate retailer, not a scammer looking to get your information.
- Look for the Secure Socket, or SSL, encryption – You want to make sure your sites are secure, especially when putting in credit information, so look out for a “green lock” in the url bar. This means no one else can access the page you are on and see the information you are entering and thereby commit credit card theft.
- Get creative – Use strong passwords, and avoid using codes that may be easy not just for you to remember, but for thieves to guess. Your name, date of birth and anniversary are passwords you should immediately consider out of the question.
- Avoid “Remember My Password” – When you ask a site to remember your password for you, this is an easy invitation for thieves to access your accounts or spend on your dime. If someone untrustworthy uses your computer, for example, they won’t even need to guess what your password is.
- Keep your antivirus up to date – A strong anti-virus will keep an eye out for phishing schemes that criminals will use to commit identity theft by accessing the files on your hard drive that have sensitive information on them.