Going to protect against ID theft is Not the answer
By Erica Sandberg | Updated: August 18, 2017
Personal Finance WriterConsumer finance specialist, author and “Opening Credits” columnist.
When it comes to security, you can never be
cautious. Wherever you live, scammers always seem to be one step ahead of consumers
and the authorities.
For example, in June 2017, a new breed of virtually imperceptible skimmers were
Discovered in Norman, Oklahoma in ATMs, allowing thieves to steal debit and
credit card information. You better run all business inside the bank from now
Not so fast. While protecting
Your credit and cash is essential, it’s also possible to go to unnecessary
extremes. Here are the most common payment security overreactions and
For transforming them into practices that are defensive suggestions.
5 REASONABLE PAYMENT SECURITY TACTICS
1. Check bank and credit statements to watch for fraud.2. Shop online only via bonded sites.3. Use fraud alerts, or in extreme circumstances, a credit freeze.4. Use credit cards regularly and attentively.5. Check credit reports yearly.
Refusing to give your credit card. Much has been reported about wait
Staff can take your credit card “in the back,” steal its
Information with a skimmer and then create cards that are cloned. Annika
Stensson, director of media relations for the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant
Association, says to relax.
“Like every other retailer, [restaurants] must
Comply with those requirements, and standards have double and triple
security,” says Stensson.
Restaurants, “don’t store PIN data, the
Point-of-sale (POS) programs are customized, and they don’t use passwords.”
Bad eggs are weeded out, too. “It is in the best interest of restaurants to
Keep trades safe because they rely on repeat customers,” she says,
Stressing that owners and managers press criminal charges
Sensible: Charge your meal, but “check
Your bank and credit statements and keep your receipts,” says Stensson. If you spot a discrepancy, call the
Restaurant remember you won’t need to pay for, and to quickly resolve it
Look for increased levels of protection against skimming that is secret,
too. More restaurants are offering a “pay at the table” option with tabletop or handheld POS systems. With them, your card will never be out of your sight.
Not buying anything online. If you are reluctant to type your credit card numbers into
The website for fear of being hacked of a retailer, you have plenty of company. A 2016 study found that half
Of U.S. internet users are “deterred” from online shopping because of privacy
And security breach worries.
Founder of The Purple Book online shopping guide, Hillary Mendelsohn, says much of the danger is a myth. Besides, she
Says, you miss out on a lot when just sticking to stores,
Including, “the ability to have the entire shopping world at your
Fingertips, the convenience of having things and getting better
Sensible: Look for the “s” in the website URL.Before charging, make sure
The page of the website begins with
“https” instead of just “http.” The “s” stands
Mendelssohn also recommends looking for the seal of an external
Security company, like the TRUSTe symbol at the bottom of each page, and she says you shouldn’t give your credit card information as payment via email. And she also advises monitoring your card activity online weekly to watch for fraudulent activity.
Imprisoning your credit file without cause. The three major credit reporting
Agencies, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, give consumers the right to limit
Access to their own credit reports to potential lenders.
With a credit freeze in
Thieves, place would have difficulty opening or changing accounts because
Requests can’t be approved by issuers without that information. However, credit
When you are genuinely at risk for fraud, like when, freezes should be used
A family member has used your personal details to open accounts.
Two things to note: There’s a fee to add and remove a credit freeze, unless you’ve already been a victim of
identity fraud. And if you are in the market for a credit card, loan, insurance
Product, or a job can take up to three business days to
Think about establishing a fraud alert. An initial fraud alert is free of any of the 3 credit reporting bureaus (the one you contact will notify the other two), and will also
Act to identity theft as a barrier.
A fraud alert is a good tool if you are concerned fraud might
occur. Any business that checks credit reports should first verify your identity
before approval. A fraud alert is renewable and lasts for 90 days. An extended fraud alert lasts
For seven decades, but have filed a and you ought to be a fraud victim
Police report to get one of those.
Completely rejecting one may not seem safer than credit.A cash-only lifestyle that
Incorporates credit cards, but that’s simply not so, says Boston-based individuality
theft expert Robert Siciliano.
“Credit is safer than cash,” says
Siciliano. “I don’t be concerned about my credit cards or fraud in any respect. I use them
Over the phone, in real life, online, anyplace.”
After all, lost or
Cash is gone for good, but when someone else uses your plastic, you
Won’t need to pay for the fraudulent charges, unless you purposely hand over
Your card to someone. And you avoid borrowing from a bank
You won’t build a good credit score and history — two things you’ll
Need if you need to finance a house or get low prices on car or insurance
Sensible: Use credit cards,
But pay attention. “Check them online at a minimum every
month,” says Siciliano. “Every two weeks is better — this way you can track fraud as well as
Take advantage of bank and credit issuer alerts, too, which will notify you via text
when transactions occur. This way if someone else is, you’ll know in time
Fraudulently using your card.
Pulling credit reports. If you keep a close watch?
Absolutely. But John Ulzheimer, credit report authority and author of “The Smart
Consumer’s Guide to Good Credit,” warns against excess.
“It is definitely unnecessary
To check your reports daily or every week,” says Ulzheimer. “The
That won’t change so it’s a waste of time and
Sensible: Pull credit reports semi-annually. Under most circumstances, getting
Your consumer credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com after a year for free is sufficient. You
Every four months, can pull on you big three credit bureaus from each. You can also get your free TransUnion credit report and monitor your credit at CreditCards.com.
Says Ulzheimer, if you’ve had experience with identity theft in the past, be
More diligent than checking your credit reports semi-annually. “Quarterly is a healthy frequency,” he says. If You’re a fraud victim, he also suggests subscribing to a credit monitoring service, as that can be less and more efficient
Stressful than doing it.
With so much press
About identity theft and fraud, it’s easy to become overly skittish about
having and using credit. But don’t let it prevent you from benefiting from this
Protection credit cards and conveniences offer. A smart precautions can go a long
See related: Infographic:
Fraud numbers can mislead to check for, mend fraud or theft, Credit monitoring services to pick on the
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