Someone wants your credit card number.
Not for legitimate purposes but so they can use it to buy stuff for themselves. Or perhaps they just want to sell it to another crook.
The holiday season is the busiest time of year for identity thieves because so many of us are shopping online, creating so many opportunities to trick us.
So we thought you might be interested in a few simple tips that will help to keep you safe:
- If you want to buy from a site you’ve never used before, do a quick online search using their name and the word “scam”. That way you’ll find out if the site is genuine.
- Make sure you type in the website address correctly. Crooks set up bogus sites with very similar names to genuine ones. They look like the real thing and try to fool you into giving your sign-on details.
- When you pay, make sure that the address bar in your browser begins with “https”. It’s the “s” that’s important; it means you’re on a secure site. You may also see a padlock icon in or near the address bar.
- If you want to keep your credit card number a secret, see if you can use one of the online payment services like PayPal, or check if your card issuer offers “virtual credit cards”. This is a system that generates a different card number for each transaction; it’s worthless to a thief after that.
- Be careful about disclosing other information, like your Social Security Number or bank account details.
You should monitor your credit card account closely, checking each purchase. Some people check their accounts online every day but at the very least you should scrutinize your monthly statement.
Look out for overseas payments and very small transactions, perhaps for as little as a few cents. Criminals use these to test if the account is working and, by using small sums, avoid raising suspicions.
If you do fall victim to ID theft, banks and card issuers will usually stand the loss themselves but you must notify them as soon as you find out.
Most homeowners insurance policies cover you for the loss of your cards and cash, up to a particular limit.
The bigger problem is what ID theft does to your credit standing, if thieves run up huge bills and make loan applications in your name.
Standalone identity theft insurance will meet the cost of repairing your credit record and restoring your ID. This may include expenses such as phone and mailing costs, notaries, attorney fees and loss of income.
This level of protection is becoming increasingly important. Every year, 12 million Americans have their identity information stolen or compromised – that’s 1 in every 20 adults.
Please call us if you’d like to know more.
Whatever you do, shop safely this Holiday Season!