After being denied new credit, you wait for the denial letter to arrive. Upon reading it, you find out the reason for denial is because of too many new credit accounts. Puzzled, you pull a recent credit report and see that there are several new accounts all carrying hefty balances. The problem is that you didn't open any of these accounts. You've just become the victim of identity theft and credit card fraud.
In the FTC's 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network report, it found that credit card fraud increased by 23%. The most common contact method for stealing peoples' identities was by phone. How do you protect yourself against fraud? In this article, we go over several tips that are sure to help fend off fraudsters.
- Be Aware Of Phishing - Or social engineering as it is sometimes called is a method fraudsters use to pull sensitive information out of someone. By cleverly pretending to be someone they aren't, fraudsters can end up with phone numbers, social security numbers, addresses, next of kin, and everything needed to open up new accounts under your name. If you don't know the person or didn't initiate the call, don't give up sensitive information.
- Two-Step Authentication - When you log into your bank or credit card website for the first time with a specific device (desktop or mobile), the financial institution doesn't know it is you. Two-step authentication sends a code to a contact point that only you have access to, such as your phone or email. You can then use the code to log in. Your device is now verified and will be remembered for future logins.
- Credit Monitoring Services - While not free, credit monitoring services are a pair of watchful eyes that look for any of your sensitive information in places it shouldn't be. You'll also get alerts when a new account is opened under your name.
Being proactive is the key to preventing fraud. Unfortunately, constantly monitoring your credit report and setting alerts for logins at your bank or credit card company is something we all must do to stay one step ahead of fraudsters.