Debit Cards & Identity Theft

By: Bernard Pragides

Over nine million people each year report that they are the victim of some type of identity theft. As criminals continue to find new ways of committing fraud, we must also continue to remain diligent about protecting our personal information.

As more and more people use credit cards and debit cards to shop or pay bills, it's getting easier for thieves to steal sensitive information as well as completely assuming someone's identity. Here are four simple ways to protect your identity and your hard earned money.

1. Use common sense.

Never give out your debit card number over the telephone, especially if you weren't the one who initiated the call, unless you are dealing with a trusted company that you are familiar and comfortable with.

Limit the amount of cards you carry with you, and keep all of your receipts in a safe place. Never throw any type of receipts in the trash near the ATM machine or a public trash container.

2. Sign up for online banking.

Enroll in your bank's online banking program so that you have easy and immediate access to your accounts at all times. The sooner you're able to report fraud to your financial institution, the quicker you'll be able to put a freeze on your accounts and stop them from doing more damage with your debit card.

3. Use caution shopping online.

While there are thousands and thousands of reputable merchants doing business online, there's still need for caution when using your debit card to shop on the internet. Of course, it's just as important to be careful anytime you use your debit card, not just while shopping on the web.

Disreputable store owners and dishonest clerks have been known to use a device called a "skimmer" which reads the information stored on your debit card's magnetic strip. Your account's information is then downloaded to a computer while the thieves then create new accounts in your name and go shopping with your money.

4. Check your credit report yearly.

Under federal law you are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you suspect your identity has been compromised as the result of your debit or credit cards being stolen, your credit report is very helpful as it will show detailed information including accounts that weren't opened by you, or charges and inquiries that you never authorized.

Checking your credit report regularly make it easier for you to take care of any potential problems and watch for fraudulent activity. And subscribe to helpful blogs that focus on identity theft news so that you can keep up with the latest alerts and news to be safe and stay safe.

Help others you know online as well. Share helpful articles and send links to helpful sites and blogs. Help each other be on the alert and watch each other's backs. Be safe and stay safe. It's all about identity theft protection.

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