Surveys show that the most common form of identity theft is credit fraud‚ so you need to be sure that you know exactly how to report credit fraud and recognize the sign. That’s why it’s a good practice to review your credit card statements carefully each month and check your credit report annually. Aside from enrolling in a credit monitoring program‚ there are other proactive measures you can take so that you’ll recognize situations that may be indicative of such fraud‚ 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 on your card’s magnetic strip — it can include your name, account number and address — will get copied and transferred. Crafty identity thieves will replace or cover the legitimate swipe machines with identical “skimmers” that will save or transmit this information so that a thief can then retrieve it and make purchases with you card. EMV chip credit cards have eliminated some of the worry over skimmers, but not even this method can protect you 100%.
If you spot a card terminal that looks like it is in less-than-great condition‚ is loose or has any other tell-tale signs of tampering‚ avoid using it.
Use cash more often
The simplest solution to lessening your risk of credit fraud is to use your credit card less often by paying with cash. Credit cards are extremely convenient, but less secure than using cash when it comes to fraud.
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. And because the bureaus calculate your credit score and draft up your report differently‚ sometimes there are differences between the reports, so you’ll want to make sure you are checking all three to avoid missing changes or unauthorized accounts. Some credit monitoring services offer monitoring with data feeds from all three major bureaus.
If you think you may be the victim of credit fraud‚ report it immediately by contacting your lender and placing a fraud alert on your account. Identity Guard can help. With our variety of products, we specialize in helping people protect themselves from identity theft.