Identity theft is one of the biggest threats to Americans, with the United States having an estimated 10 million victims in the last year with a total cost of $5 billion. The crime is rapidly growing, but the most frightening statistic is that the average American will take 12 months before they spot the deception.
The crime has received even more publicity recently, as big name companies such as Sony suffered a breach in its security, compromising some of its customer’s data. Financial firm Citibank also found that hackers had made their way partially in to its systems.
So what can be done about the growing danger to the generation that loves to use technology?
Steps to Avoid Identify Theft
Undoubtedly one of the best ways to combat identity fraud is to prevent it in the first place and there are a number of steps that can be taken.
Firstly, think very carefully about providing any personal data especially that classed as highly sensitive, such as a social security number, credit card details or bank account number.
For online loan applications or credit cards, it is important to verify the company is bona fide and a simple way to do this is to see if they feature on a comparison site such as Money Super Market.
When dealing with any kind of personal data on line, it is always a good idea to ensure any wireless connection is encrypted in order to prevent easy access for fraudsters.
When paying for goods by card in person, if a retailer swipes the card twice, they should be asked to explain why.
Whilst a double swipe is often required to register the card, it is also one of the most commonly used methods of cloning the card details.
There is a difference between credit card fraud and stolen identity, although one can undoubtedly lead to the other. Whilst many credit card firms can adequately handle stolen credit cards, there are far fewer that offer real protection against identity fraud.
Whilst tracking account balances and statements is essential to monitor whether any unusual purchases are showing on the card, to prevent a potential identity thief doing any real damage, a closer monitor system is needed.
One of the systems some card providers operate is the facility to get notification of any unusual activity on the account.
Whilst this means that a splurge at the mall may end up with communication from the firm, it is far better to be safe than sorry and can act as an early warning system against fraud.
Recovering from Identify Fraud
Identity fraud is a minefield to sort out and some credit card firms offer specialized services for any account holders who have been victims and provide advisors to help not only recover any funds, but also repair any damage done at the credit reference agencies.
If identity theft is something that concerns you, it may be worth checking what protection your cardholder automatically provides and if the answer is little or none, consider switching to a provider in the market that looks after its customers more comprehensively.
Identity fraud is a growing risk and only by taking precautions to help prevent it and ensuring there is support in place if the worst happens, can its effects be counteracted.
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