Amid all the bad news about data breaches and identity theft, it’s easy to feel “data breach fatigue.” Advice on how to protect your information and how to be wary of any changes in your credit has left many glassy-eyed and slack-jawed with over-information.
But that doesn’t diminish the importance of the advice given by the experts. That’s why – especially during and after the holiday shopping season – it’s important to power through the fatigue and revisit the vigilance factors needed to protect your identity.
Credit card fraud is on the rise
While identity theft includes bank fraud and insurance fraud, one of the most common and lucrative forms of identity theft is credit card fraud, experts say.
Credit card fraud represents about one-third of information theft. The Federal Trade Commission reports about 139,000 cases of credit card theft in 2017.
The best way to check for credit card fraud is to open your monthly credit card and bank statements and look for any unauthorized purchases. You can also sign up for free text or email alerts if there is a change made to your account.
Here’s a pro tip: If you receive a call from your bank about account fraud, don’t necessarily believe the caller. Hang up the phone and call the number listed on the back of the credit card or bank card and check in with security officials.
Protection and prevention ideas from the experts
According to the government experts at USA.gov, here are the top tips for identity theft protection:
-- Don’t keep your Social Security card in your pocket or wallet. Only give out the number when absolutely necessary
-- Don’t share your Social Security number, birth date or bank account number just because someone asks for it
-- Use your phone’s security features
-- Update firewall protections if you’re using public wi-fi networks
-- Install firewall protection on your home computer
-- Shred receipts, statements and expired credit cards to foil “dumpster divers”
-- If any billing statements are late, contact the sender to make sure they haven’t been stolen
-- Create complex passwords to foil mal-doers
-- Freeze your credit files with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It’s free and can stop someone from applying for credit or utilities in your name.