Protect Yourself From Fraud
The rising popularity of payment cards and the Internet has led to a rise in fraud crimes. This section provides suggestions and strategies on how to minimize the chances of fraud happening to you online or offline.
- Be very careful about to whom you give your personal identification information, such as your mother's maiden name and your identity number. Ask if it can be kept confidential. Inquire how it will be used and with whom it will be shared.
- Never provide any personal, bank account or credit card information to anyone who contacts you through a telephone or email solicitation. Instead, it is advisable to demand they mail you information so that you can further research the company and their products and services.
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place. Keep a list of all credit cards, account numbers, expiration dates, and the customer service phone numbers in a secure place so that you can quickly contact your creditors in case your cards are lost or stolen.
- Tear up or destroy all ATM and bank receipts, old insurance forms, bank checks, expired payment cards, and any other papers that include personal information, identification, and account numbers about you. This includes pre-approved credit card solicitations! Thieves often search through your garbage to find these forms and information and use it to apply for credit in your name.
- Minimize the number of credit cards and other items with personal information printed on them that you carry. Cancel all inactive accounts. Even though you do not use them, those accounts appear on your credit report, which can be used by thieves.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean a thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
- Be wary of promotional scams. Thieves may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.
- Secure personal information in your home. Treat payment card information like other important personal documents such as share certificates, deeds, and income tax filings, all of which should be stored in a secure place.
- Ask about information security procedures in your workplace. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that records are kept in a secure location. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well.
- Make sure you are doing business with a reputable Internet merchant. Look for the following information on the website to check if a merchant is reputable:
- Information about the offer – Make sure you learn all you can about the offer, and how to contact the company if you have questions.
- Information about the merchant – Find the company’s address and telephone number.
- Your computer browser can tell you if the place where you are about to send the information is secure. If you cannot determine this, do not put your payment card information over the Internet.