Identity theft is one of today’s most common crimes. Don’t become another statistic. Keep reading to learn what you can do to prevent identity theft.
Know What Identity Theft Is
Identity theft covers a wide range of financial crimes from making a copy of your credit card to buy things or stealing your mail to open bank accounts in your name. The common factor is that the thieves want to use your information to steal your money or to steal money from a bank in your name. The key to preventing identity theft is protecting your information.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings When Using Bank Cards
Whether you’re out shopping or stopping at an ATM, make sure no one is looking over your shoulder when you enter your PIN. This doesn’t just apply to muggers. If the identity thieves have compromised the card reader, your PIN may be all they need to make and use a copy of your card.
Also, check for card skimmers. These are small plastic devices that copy your card’s information and look like part of the ATM or payment terminal. You’re looking for anything that looks out of place or feels loose. You may also have trouble swiping your card smoothly. If in doubt and you already swiped your card, call your bank and lock it.
Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards
Credit and debit cards go into the card machine the same way, so there’s no technical difference in how identity thieves copy them. The difference is what happens when thieves do. With a debit card, they have direct access to your bank account and can immediately drain it of all of your money. You’ll usually get your money back, but it could take a few weeks when you have bills to pay. With a credit card, you don’t have to pay until you get your bill, so you have time to dispute any unauthorized charges.
Sign Up for Credit Monitoring
You can get a free annual credit report, but that gives identity thieves a lot of time to do damage in between. To stop identity theft as soon as it starts, sign up for credit monitoring that alerts you for things like new inquiries, new accounts, and unusual balance changes. There are both free and paid services on the market. The paid services usually give you more information and more frequent updates, but free services can give you everything you need. Many banks offer very good credit monitoring services as a courtesy to their customers.
Buy Identity Theft Insurance
Since you can’t stop all identity theft, you need a plan for when it happens. Your bank’s fraud protection may reimburse you for unauthorized transactions, but you may still have other expenses like legal fees and lost time from work. Identity theft insurance covers these extra costs so that you can truly be made whole after identity theft.
To learn more about identity theft insurance, exactly what it covers, and policy limits, talk to Long & Company. We proudly serve Oconomowoc, WI, and the surrounding communities.