WHAT ARE IDENTITY THEFT & STORE CREDIT CARD FRAUD?
Identity theft and store credit card fraud are serious crimes that can have a devastating impact on their victims.
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of your name and other personal information for criminal purposes. Store credit card fraud is the unauthorized use of your store credit card (or just your store credit card information) to make purchases either online or in person.
But if you're armed with some basic information, and you take a few simple steps to protect yourself, chances are won't fall prey to these growing problems.
Identity theft and store credit card fraud fast facts:
These crimes are on the rise thanks to the Internet, social media and computer hackers
Your credit score and future ability to make purchases on favorable credit terms can be affected
Thieves do not need your actual store credit card to use it; they just need the information
Don't throw out or give out personal financial information
Monitor your store credit card activity and credit reports
Be careful what you post on social media
How do thieves get your information?
Criminals use many different methods to obtain your personal info, from stealing your mail to going through your trash to looking over your shoulder at the ATM. Some con artists make false telephone solicitations to get you to reveal personal financial information. And you’d be amazed (and horrified) by the amount of information available about you online, via social media and through more covert hacking methods.
Minor annoyance or major headaches?
If someone steals your store credit card info and goes on a shopping spree, luckily, you’re not liable for the charges with most store credit cards. You’ll just need to cancel your existing card and get a new one. Annoying, but not devastating.
However, identity theft can lead to serious, ongoing problems if someone uses your name, social security number and personal information to rack up thousands of dollars in unpaid bills—or commit a more serious crime. You could end up with a bad credit score. Correcting your credit report can take years. The best plan is to prevent it before it happens.
Store credit card fraud and identity theft protection tips
Many fraud crimes can be prevented with a few common-sense tactics:
Shred your bills and other personal/financial paperwork before you toss them in the trash.
Make sure your mailbox has a secure lock.
Be cautious when using the ATM or signing a credit slip. If someone seems suspicious or is trying to peer over your shoulder, walk away and do your transaction later.
Check your store credit card statement every month for strange charges.
Beware of anyone who calls or emails you asking for personal financial information.
If you lose a store credit card or your driver’s license, report it immediately.
Make sure your online passwords are strong and cannot be easily found or guessed.
Change your passwords regularly.
Importantly, keep an eye on your credit to make sure you don't have to play from behind.