Financial identity theft is a growing crime that can destroy your credit and your ability to purchase a home. Each day people throughout the world find themselves victims of identity theft that can cripple their financial futures. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself so you never know the feeling of having false purchases made in your name that can damage your credit and prevent you from reaching your dreams.
The following methods are some of the easiest and most common ways to protect yourself from financial identity theft.
1. Keep Your Credit Card Information Secure
Refrain from saving credit card numbers on websites to make purchasing items easier. While convenient, trusting your credit card information to any website is a bad idea. Even the biggest online retailers can fall victim to nefarious hackers and viruses, so don’t give thieves anything to steal. Avoid the temptation to click “remember this card” and type the number in each time you make a purchase.
As an added bonus, not storing your credit card information makes it more difficult and time consuming for you to make a purchase, eliminating impulse buys and other tempting offers. If you have to make the effort to retrieve your credit card and type in the number, you are less likely to purchase things you don’t really need.
2. Don’t Fall For Phishing Scams
Never respond to an email from a credit card company or to an incoming phone call from a credit card company. If you get an email or a phone call, don’t give out any information and hang up as soon as possible. Then, call the number on the back of your card and seek assistance. Very few credit card companies will contact you, other than to request you to contact them using the number on the back of your credit card. Anyone who tries to talk you out of hanging up and calling yourself is probably a scammer. Likewise, your credit card company will never request your personal information in an email.
3. Act Fast If You Lose Your Card
If you lose your credit card or leave it at a store, inform your credit card company immediately. They will immediately place a hold on the card so that no new charges can come through. Your credit card company will then issue you a new credit card at no cost. While getting a new card number is inconvenient, it’s nothing compared to the headache of having your financial identity stolen. When in doubt, it’s better to play it safe. Some people have a habit of requesting a new credit card number ever year to prevent anyone who has obtained their number illegally from making purchases.
4. Keep An Eye On Your Credit Report
Look for false information and fake accounts. Often, criminals steal your personal information and use it to create an account you are unaware of, racking up huge debts before you even discover the accounts existence. You can request a free credit report once a year. Mark it on your calendar and take as much time as necessary to go through it to verify all of the information.
5. Don’t Trust Anyone With Your Credit Card
The only person who should have access to your credit card or checking accounts is you. While you may trust your children or your parents, you never know who they are sharing the information with. Do they practice the same safety with your credit card that you do? If someone needs you to make a purchase for them with your credit card, do it yourself rather than handing your card over.
These five tips will help you avoid having your financial identity stolen. Being a victim of credit theft is a preventable crime, and taking the right steps now can help you avoid problems in the future. Take your financial security seriously and never worry about being the target of a financial crime.