You’re probably feeling like you’ve heard a lot about credit fraud recently. If so, you may have a few questions. Like, “What is it? Should I be worried? How can I protect myself?” Well, you’re not the only one. We field these questions a lot at IdentityForce, and we thought we’d put them all in one spot for easy reference.
What is credit fraud?
Credit fraud is the use of a credit card to pay for goods or services with no intention of paying off the resulting debts for those goods and services. Typically, thieves gain access to the credit you’ve worked hard to build, and use it to open fraudulent accounts, make a series of purchases, and never pay the debt (which is, unfortunately, in your name).
Best case scenario, it’s caught before too much damage is done, and you order all new credit cards and open new bank accounts to protect yourself. In addition, at this point, credit card companies are generally happy to remove the fraudulent charges without much back and forth.
Worst case scenario, it’s not caught in time, and you are buried in legal fees and bills for years that you must address. To compound the situation, your credit, now in the hands of thieves, is susceptible to future compromises. And, remember those credit card companies who removed fraudulent charges without much question? If too much time has passed since the fraud began, those companies may not be as quick to remove the charges.
So, should you be worried?
There have been a number of credit card compromises this year – including the Home Depot, Target and JP Morgan breaches that have exposed the personal and sensitive information of millions of people. With that in mind, it is perfectly reasonable for you to be concerned about how secure your credit is and you should take necessary precautions to protect yourself.
How can you protect yourself?
There are many things you can do to protect your credit and your identity. First, always review your monthly credit card statements and verify that the charges are appropriate. At the very least, be sure to check your reports twice a year. Keep in mind that the ideal is to check your credit reports once every quarter.
As an added layer of protection, you should consider enrolling in a service like UltraSecure+Credit, which includes Credit Monitoring, which will monitor your credit reports for you, and Fraud Monitoring alerts, giving you the power to stop fraud attempts. While this coverage doesn’t mean you should stop checking those statements, it offers you peace of mind that on a daily basis, someone is looking out for you.
But that’s not all.
You should also be cautious about who you share your personal information with. The people you do business with should be reputable and trustworthy.
And as always, be sure to stay tuned with the IdentityForce blog. We’re your resource for all things related to identity theft protection.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Sean MacEntee.