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While banks and credit card companies have their own fraud controls, you need to be ever vigilant as the data breech that occurred at Target won’t be the last. Fraud is a real-time crime so waiting until the end of the month to check your credit and debit card activity doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to check your debit and credit card account activity every few days. If you spot any suspicious activity, be sure to immediately notify your bank or credit card issuer.
Watch out for “hotspots”
Be careful about using a debit card online or at retailers that are more venerable to fraud. ATM machines and gas stations are considered to be are credit and debit card “hot spots” for “skimmers” or machines that capture your card information. When you use an ATM, watch out for any parts that look unusual. The slot where you insert your card should be even with the rest of the machine or have only a very tiny edge. If the slot looks or feels different or if it has an extra bit of plastic sticking out, this could be a skimmer and you should not use the machine. If you don’t notice something looks fishy until after you’ve used your card, be sure to notify your bank immediately so that it can be on the lookout for any fraudulent charges. When you’re using an ATM you also should cover your hand whenever you’re typing in your PIN to prevent a thief from “shoulder surfing” to see and copy it.
Other tips for preventing credit card fraud
There are some other simple ways you can protect yourself from credit card fraud as reported in this video ... which also explains why thieves love gift cards.
Be careful with your mail
Another important thing you can do to prevent identity theft is to be careful with your mail. For example, most experts say you should never leave outgoing mail in your mailbox or mail slot. A thief could grab your mail. If it included a payment of some kind he would instantly have your credit card and checking account information. You should take your outgoing mail to the post office instead – especially your credit card payments. For that matter, you should probably go paperless, get your financial information electronically and make your payments online. That way, no thief would ever be able to access your important financial information. If you do get your information on paper, be sure to shred it so that no thief can go dumpster diving and retrieve it.
Lock it all up
Identity thieves don’t need all your information to steal your identity. They need only a bit to get the rest. Be sure to put your passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates and other important documents in a safe deposit box at your bank. If you can’t do this at least put them in a safe you hide in your home. You should also put any credit cards you’ve stopped using into that safe or safe deposit box.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. In fact, last year about 12.4 million Americans fell victim to this crime. There’s no way you can protect yourself 100% from it but if you follow the advice you’ve just read in this article, you can minimize the odds that you’ll be victimized.