As that wise saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! When it comes to protecting yourself from credit fraud and identity theft, that ounce of prevention comes in the form of taking the 10 simple and free steps below.
- Safeguard your credit cards just as you would cash.
- Reduce the number of cards you carry; just one or two are sufficient for everyday use.
- Minimize the amount of personal information a criminal can steal. Don't carry your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you on a routine basis.
- Keep a list of all of your credit cards, including account numbers, expiration dates, and issuer phone numbers, so that you can notify creditors quickly in case of theft or loss.
- Sign any new cards as soon as you receive them.
- If one of your credit card bills is late, call the card issuer's customer service number immediately. Make sure that your bill has not been diverted to a different address.
- Review your statements carefully each month to make sure all charges are accurate.
- Report billing errors and lost or stolen cards to your credit card issuer immediately.
- Never give anyone a card number or other personal information over the telephone unless you initiated the call.
- Shred pre-approved credit card offers, credit card receipts, copies of airline tickets, travel itineraries, and anything else that displays your credit card information before putting them in the trash.
- Check your credit report for accuracy at least once a year.
Let's be honest, the time it takes to clean up a credit fraud or identity theft mess is a hassle! If you've ever been a victim, you know how much time it takes to clean up your thief's handiwork. Follow the tips above and you'll be closer to protecting yourself from becoming a target.