Tips for Protecting Yourself from Credit Fraud

Credit card fraud occurs every day, as hackers are always on the lookout for ways to steal your personal information. In fact, it is estimated that nine million Americans are victims of identity fraud every year, and many of these individuals have their credit card information stolen as well. Even if you only use your credit cards to shop at major retailers, you can still become a victim. Stores like Home Depot, Target, Goodwill Industries and PF Chang’s have been hacked in recent months, so you really cannot count on corporations to protect your information. All you can really do is take it upon yourself to protect your personal information to avoid becoming another statistic.

Monitor Your Statements

Most people glance at their statements every month, but you should always go a little further in-depth to find fraudulent charges. In some cases, these charges will be obvious, such as your card being used to make a purchase on the other side of the country, but this isn’t always the case. Go over every purchase that shows up on your cards and think about whether or not you made the purchase. If you want to take it a step further, save all of your receipts and compare them to your statements to ensure no one else is using your credit card number.

Protect Your Information

You probably have a great deal of information being stored online, such as your credit card and banking information. As a result, it is very important that you protect your passwords and never give them out to anyone. Change your passwords monthly and never use the same password for multiple accounts. If you only have one password and one account is hacked, it puts your other accounts at risk as well. Don’t make yourself a target for cyber crime by protecting all of your information at all times.

When you make a purchase online, use your credit card, because it provides better protection against fraudulent charges than your debit card. You should also be aware of phishing scams, in which a fraudulent website mimics the appearance of a legitimate one, such as your bank, in an attempt to steal your passwords and other information.

Order a Credit Report

Wallet with cash and credit cardsPerhaps one of the most common forms of credit fraud occurs when someone steals some of your personal information and then opens a new credit card in your name. In these cases, it can take months or longer for you to notice, over which time this individual will have racked up thousands of dollars in charges to your account. By monitoring your credit report at all times, you will see if a new card has been opened in your name, giving you the opportunity to take action before the card can be used. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each bureau annually, so you do not have to pay to keep an eye on your personal credit.

Freeze Your Credit

Those who are particularly concerned about credit card fraud can have their credit frozen. This means your credit files are inaccessible unless you contact the credit bureaus personally to have them unfrozen. While this will be a pain if you want to apply for a car loan, a bank loan or a mortgage, it will ensure that your credit information remains safe and that no one can access it without your permission.

Shred Documents

You probably have a number of documents arrive at your home each week that contain some sensitive information. Make sure you open all of this mail immediately and shred anything that could possibly be used to steal your credit card information or open up a new account in your name. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license information and your social security number. Absolutely anything that contains your personal information can be used against you, so shred it all to protect yourself.

With the constant enhancement of technology, it is becoming easier for hackers to steal your personal information. However, by following these tips, you can prevent credit card fraud from happening to you.