Could A Fraudster Be Using Your Credit Card?

By: Joseph Kenny

If your credit card statement has transactions you don't know about, don't just dismiss them as a banking error. It could be worth checking to see if you are a victim of identity theft.

Identity theft is where someone gets hold of information that can identify you, such as a credit or debit card, passport or driver's licence, and uses that to create a new identity for himself or herself. The person may also use those details to buy goods or services which you may find on your credit card statement.

How Fraudsters Get Your Details

Identity fraudsters have a number of methods for getting hold of people's personal details. A simple one is to rummage through someone's rubbish, looking for old receipts they have thrown away. This can be a simple way of getting hold of a credit card number.

Identity fraudsters can also steal your mail or redirect it to a different address, so that letters addressed to you go somewhere else, and your information goes with them.

Another method of gaining personal information is by stealing a wallet or purse with debit and credit cards, perhaps a driving licence and old receipts. And a house burglary will yield even more rewards for fraudsters with even more information lying around for the taking.

Fraudsters have also gone high tech and use computer hacking and 'skimming' machines to get hold of information. 'Skimming' allows fraudsters to copy credit card details from the ATM and clone your credit card in a couple of minutes.

Identity Theft Checklist

If you think you might be a victim of identity theft, ask yourself the following questions:
?Has someone been rummaging through your rubbish?
?Have you had less mail than usual recently?
?Have you had a bill or receipt for something you know you haven't ordered?
?Are you getting invoices from people you don't usually deal with?
?Are debt collectors or solicitors chasing you for money you know you don't owe?
?Have you been turned down for credit in spite of a spotless record?

If you have answered yes to any of these, then you might be a victim of identity theft and it's time to inform the relevant authorities. Here are some tips for avoiding being a victim.

Identity Fraud Prevention Tips

Security should be your watchword in protecting against identity fraud. That means that you never reveal PINs or passwords. You should also invest in a shredder to completely destroy unwanted till receipts, ATM receipts or anything else that has personal information. Anything you do want to keep should be stored securely in either a safety deposit box or a locked drawer or cabinet.

Redirect your mail if you move and check to make sure that no-one else has redirected it for you. Let banks and credit card companies know as well. Finally, get a copy of your credit file from one of the credit reference agencies. This is a good way of checking whether someone has applied for credit in your name.

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