Personal identity theft is a huge runaway business made even easier with advances in computer technology. So far as credit cards are concerned, personal identity theft is now costing card issuer billions of dollars a year. To try and recoup some of these losses, card providers and now telling their customers that if they were in any way at fault in the theft of their identity, they could be comparable and liable for at least part of these losses. So, what exactly is credit card identity theft and how can you minimize it happening to you?
Credit card identity theft
In short, credit card identity theft is when someone else manages to get access to your account. This can be done in one of three ways:
- firstly, and most obviously, they steal your actual card and use this card before you have had a chance to inform the provider.
- second, the copy the details from your card and use the details to either make a new card to purchase items in shops or purchase items on the Internet. As you don’t believe that the card has been stolen, you are not aware that the card is being used illegally and it may not be till your card is denied that you notice something is wrong
- lastly, they neither steal the card, nor the details of your card but steal your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and then use that get access to large sums of cash. This rather clever method is used by way of copying your PIN details when you use an ATM to withdraw cash on your credit card. Again, as you are unaware that anything has happened, it takes sometime for the illicit use to come to your attention.
How to protect your identity
Basically, the only 100% way to protect your identity is to only use your credit card with people you know and trust. Unfortunately, that is not a realistic solution. Some of the following safety precautions, however, should be adopted:
- when you use you credit card in a shop, never agree to let the card go out of your sight; for example, if the attendant tells you they have to make a phone call in he backroom, tell then you are going with them
- if the shop you use your card in uses the old carbon-copy paper system, never allow the shop to retain the carbon-copy. Take it with you and destroy it at a later date
- never use your credit card on an unsecured website. At best the website should have an encrypted safety system, without which you should give serious thought to whether you should be using the services of another site
- never use your credit card to withdraw money in an ATM you have not used previously. If you really need to withdraw money on your credit card, do so at the counter using the teller and not the ATM
If you adopt these minimal safety precautions you should be on your way to protecting your identity – and be less liable for any identity theft. One final consideration, given the choice between the Internet and shop, where would you think most identity theft occurs? If you choose the Internet you could be (currently) wrong – so be careful using your credit card in shops you don’t know!
Credit card - Identity theft prevention