Online shopping is now second-nature for millions of consumers, but it carries with it certain risks for identity theft. Some shoppers might think that avoiding online purchasing will eliminate potential problems, but in-person shopping can also have its own perils.
Determining the safest method for shopping isn't necessarily about choosing one or the other - it all comes down to knowing how to shop safely in either environment. Consider these potential identity theft
pitfalls of shopping in person and online:
You've just finished the last bite of a delicious meal. It was worth every penny, and as you put your John Hancock on the credit card receipt, you make certain that you leave a good tip to show your appreciation of the meal.
That meal will remain a good memory, until several months later when you start receiving bill collector calls, or strange merchandise that you didn't order is being delivered to your door with your name on it.
Identity theft unfortunately happens frequently at restaurants and bars, usually involving credit card fraud. Investigations often discover skimmers on the credit card readers, which capture and store the data embedded in the cards. This data is then used to add additional bogus charges to that account, or create new purchasing accounts in the victim's name, without the victim's knowledge.
So how do you protect yourself when eating out? Here are three tips to help protect your identity:
1. Pay in cash. It might feel dangerous to carry around a large amount of cash to cover all the evening's activities, but even if you lose the cash, in the long run it's a better deal than if someone steals your credit card number and runs up the balance making online purchases. (more...)
Your identity was stolen, and now you (finally) have it resolved. To protect against another occurrence, and to keep a closer eye on your accounts, be sure to take the following steps to reduce your risk.
• Check your credit reports from the three credit reporting companies on a rotating basis. While you were working to fix your case of identity theft, you were entitled to a copy of a free credit report, but once everything is resolved, you will only qualify for a free report from each company once a year. Always review the report for any information that is inaccurate.
• Establish a bill-paying calendar. Identity thieves often target mail service, because bills can contain account and other personal identifying information. If you are able, opt for online billing services, and keep track of dates bills should arrive. If they don't show up, contact the account provider to check the account information.
Cleaning and finances don't intuitively go hand-in-hand, but spring's a great time to address both. Since you're already doing your taxes, it's the perfect time to do a little financial house cleaning.
Here are a few financial spring cleaning tips that can also help :
• Check your credit report. Regularly monitoring your credit is perhaps the best way to protect yourself from identity theft. Inaccuracies in your report are the first clues that your identity has been stolen, which is why most identity theft services include credit monitoring.