It’s surprisingly easy to have your credit card account hacked‚ so you need to be sure that you know exactly how to report credit fraud and recognize immediately when it occurs. That’s why it’s a good practice to review your credit card statements carefully each month and check your credit report regularly. Aside from enrolling in a credit monitoring program‚ there are other proactive measures you should take so that you’ll recognize situations that may be indicative of such theft‚ and what steps to take.
Be wary of skimmers
Whenever you swipe your credit card‚ whether at a gas station‚ ATM or your favorite retailer‚ the information or your cards magnetic strip — namely‚ your account number — will get copied and transferred into the device. Crafty identity thieves will replace the legitimate swipers with identical “skimmers” that will save this information so that a thief can then retrieve it at a later date and make purchases in your name.
If you spot a swiper that looks like it is in less-than-great condition‚ is loose or has any other tell-tale signs of tampering‚ avoid using it at all costs.
Spot a copied card
While you can request a copy of each of these credit reports yourself for free annually‚ a credit monitoring service will continually be aware of certain changes that show up on your report. These three bureaus calculate your credit score and draft up your report differently‚ they all paint a somewhat similar picture of your financial standing. Even still‚ it is best to go with a service that keeps track of all three just in case one report shows signs of identity theft that another may have missed.
What are the sure-fire signs of a good credit monitoring service?
These same thieves may make a fake credit card that has a magnetic strip that they created containing your account information‚ then use it to make purchases.
If you think that someone has done this with your information‚ report credit fraud immediately by contacting your lender and placing a fraud alert on your account. Most creditors will give their customers at least 90 days to detect this activity‚ which will be visible on your monthly statement‚ although late reporting may hinder your ability to repair your credit.
Be proactive about protecting your credit score by enlisting in a credit monitoring service.