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Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
Have you had your identity stolen? What are you doing to protect yourself from identity theft?
I was just a teenager when I had my identity stolen, and it was such a horrible feeling. I was out shopping with my sister for shoes when I put my purse down to try on the shoe I liked, I walked over to look in the mirror to see how they looked and when I came back to sit down, I noticed my purse was gone.
I started looking everywhere, asking the store clerk and looking to see if there was anyone else around.
There was only one other girl in the store with us, and I knew she had to take it because she was now long gone.
I ran outside to see if she was still in the area, but she was not. I was devastated and in tears. Not only did I have cash in my purse, but I also carried my social security card, license, credit cards, etc. in my purse.
When I got home, I rushed to find my bank statements and credit card bills so that I could call and tell them I had my purse stolen, but I still worried about what else I had in there because I did not keep track of everything.
Within a week I had a gas purchase on my card, and a new credit card for a store at the mall was opened under my name. I felt so violated that this thief was going around pretending to be me and treating herself to a shopping spree. The thief opened up the new card and racked up the bill to the maximum.
Luckily because I did call right away and report the theft, and because the mall has cameras, they were able to stop this person from causing future damage – but I was never the same.
From then on I was very vigilant in how I share my information, and my purse is always stuck to my side no matter where I am. The main thing I learned from this experience is never to carry a Social Security card; you do not need it. Remember your number and keep your card at home.
That was over 15 years ago, and the way identities are stolen now is even scarier because you may not even know it is happening! The sophistication level of professional identity thieves continues to grow along with the methods they develop. With corporate data breaches, card skimmer scams, hacking and email and phone phishing scams, we are all vulnerable.
For me, I knew my purse was gone so I was able to call the police, my credit card companies, etc. but with all of these new methods, you may never even know it is happening until it’s too late!
Early detection is the key to fighting identity theft. Take the “What’s My Fraud IQ?” Quiz to see what your FRAUD IQ is and keep reading to get tips on protecting your identity. I think I am very good with keeping my identity safe, but even I got a 7 out of 9.
How did you do on the quiz?
Fraud prevention is a partnership between cardholders and their bank. By working together, they can help you keep your accounts safer and more secure. Companies like Chase take customer security very seriously, and Chase has numerous fraud-detection tools in place to help protect customer accounts. To keep your information safe, check out this website for features and tips from Chase.
Here are a few more ways consumers can protect themselves against fraud risks:
- Shop at well-respected and trusted retailers online and off. Only shop sites that are secure and begin with https as opposed to HTTP.
- Don’t give your credit or debit card information away via email or phone, and don’t respond to unsolicited emails. If you’re not sure, call the company in question (using a known and verified phone number).
- Don’t swipe if you don’t have to. Use your chip-enabled EMV card or a mobile payment service wherever available.
- Strengthen your password using numbers, letters and symbols. If you choose something simple or personal – like birth dates or your kids’ names – savvy hackers may be able to break the code by reading your profile on social media.
- Another smart move is to download your bank’s mobile app to make payments securely online, eliminating the vulnerability from mailing a check. Also, the mobile app gives you the opportunity to check your account on the go.
- Be careful when using public Wi-Fi to make a purchase via a smartphone or other device, as many public networking technologies are not protected with encryption. It’s best not to enter credit or debit card numbers or other private information when using public Wi-Fi. But if you must, only do so on secure websites, which begin with “https.”
- Make use of the lock feature on your smartphone. Using a password or pin to access the device keeps it safe should you misplace it or it gets stolen.
Companies like Chase make it easier to protect yourself by offering:
Zero-Liability Protection – You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges made with your card or account information
24/7 Fraud Monitoring – Chase uses specialized tools to monitor for fraud and may text, email or call you if there is certain unusual activity on your account.
Embedded Chip Technology – A chip adds another layer of security to cards when used at a chip card reader. During the chip transaction, the chip produces a single-use code to validate the transaction – further protecting cards from unauthorized use.
Chase will ship you a new credit card immediately if fraud is confirmed or if your card is lost or stolen. If you’re traveling and away from home, they will work with you to authorize the credit card purchases you need.
By understanding fraud protection and taking proactive steps, consumers can help fight fraud and improve their personal “Fraud IQ.”
How are you protecting your identity? Did you do well on the Fraud IQ Quiz?