1. Understand debit card dangers. Greater liability than credit cards.
When it comes to fraud, debit cards carry much greater personal liability than credit cards, depending on how quickly you report the loss of the card.
If you fail to report unauthorized activity within sixty days of receiving your bank statements, you could lose all the money in your account and be held responsible for any amount of money that has been tapped from a line of credit.
2. Rethink check writing. That little slip of paper has way too much information.
Some experts even advise against writing checks as they give a lot of personal information (address, bank account number, signature and driver’s license) to total strangers.
On top of that, there’s no federal legislation to limit your liability for forged checks (each state has its own set of rules). Experts advise consumers to look into automating bill paying.
3. Secure your mail. Your mailbox is a goldmine of information.
Between bank statements, bills, and all those pre-approved credit card offers, your mailbox is loaded with personal data. Identity thieves can easily apply for credit cards in your name. And unless you diligently check your credit report, you may never even know about it. You’re entitled to one free credit report each year, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call
1-877-322-8228 to get your free credit report.
One way to guard your mail is to literally lock it up by purchasing a mailbox with a lock. And to foil dumpster-diving thieves, burn or shred with a cross shredder and destroy documents before throwing them away, never recycle them.
4. Go Virtual. Extra protection when shopping online.
Introducing virtual card numbers; disposable, randomly generated credit card numbers that online shoppers use once and throw away. It’s linked directly to your real credit card account so purchases show up on your monthly bill.
The service is easy to use – and it’s free. All you need to do is register; among the companies offering the virtual card are MBNA, Discover, and Citigroup.
5. Create an emergency identity kit. Would you know how to contact your credit card company in an emergency?
Create an emergency identity kit; write down the account number, expiration date, issuing company name and emergency contact number for each card you own.
While you’re at it, make copies of your driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate and passport and store them in a locked file cabinet or safe deposit box.
Here are some additional ways to protect yourself:
· Call 1-888-5OPTOUT and ask to stop credit card companies from sending pre-approved credit card applications or “convenience check” to your house. They are ticking identity theft time bombs.
· Hassle companies that ask for personal information, such as your phone number at a checkout line. The harder we make it on companies, the less they will be inclined to continue the practice.
· It's impossible to tell what's real and what's fake online. Just delete any e-mail that asks for personal information.
· Just hang up on telemarketers, particularly ones who seem to be fishing for personal information, like your birthday.
· Limit the number of credit cards you hold, and religiously inspect your financial statements each month. Consumer rights quickly fade over time; the sooner you discover an identity theft incident the better.