It may have happened to you. You are paying your bills and managing your money as carefully as you can, but out of the blue one day you get a call from a collection agency explaining that you are delinquent on a credit card bill. The outstanding balance on this particular card is astronomical, and you don’t remember ever applying for a card in this name, let alone charging purchases to it. After some investigation with the credit card company, and perhaps a credit reporting agency, you realize that you have been the victim of credit card identity theft.
Credit card identity theft often begins in your own trash can. Sometimes it can start out of your person mailbox at home. A thief finds a credit card application addressed to you that has been discarded without a second look – or thought. The thief fills out the application, sends it in to the credit card company, and voila! You are now the proud holder of a credit card that you did not want, apply for, or make any purchases on.
The first line of defense against credit card identity theft is to shred any applications you receive for credit cards or any types of consumer loans. Paper shredders come in a variety of sizes and price ranges and are really the easiest and fastest means of destroying documents. If you don’t have the budget or the inclination to invest in a shredder just yet, you can tear up your documents by hand. Just make sure the pieces are too small to tape back together before you allow it to hit the trash.
Other Types of Credit Card Identity Theft
You can also be the victim of credit card identity theft with a credit card that you currently have and use. If some unscrupulous person gets his fingers on your account number, he can use that information to change the address on your card, and make unauthorized purchases to your account. Often these account numbers are purchased by criminals from someone who had access to your credit card and is looking to make a fast buck. Sometimes it can be a store clerk or restaurant server who will scan the information before returning your card to you.
It is a good idea when using your card as payment to never let the credit card out of your line of sight. When you receive your credit card bill, check all purchases carefully to be sure you can account for each charge. If something on your bill doesn’t add up, contact your credit card company immediately to investigate the charge in question.
Your credit card is a valuable asset. Protect it carefully and you may protect yourself from becoming the victim of credit card identity theft.