Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Monitoring Credit Cards to Prevent Identity Theft

In order to keep your finances and your credit report protected, it is important to take certain steps to protect yourself against identity theft. Unfortunately, thousands of people become victims of identity theft every year and trying to clean up the mess can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Credit cards are among the most popular tools that thieves use to get their hands on information from unsuspecting victims. With these simple tips, however, you can reduce your risks significantly.

Tip #1: Don’t Carry Too Many Credit Cards

Many people carry all of their credit cards and debit cards with them everywhere they go. This leaves you open to having all of your accounts compromised if your wallet or purse gets lost or stolen. Instead, carry only one or two credit cards with you and your ATM card if necessary. It is also a good idea to leave debit cards at home, as they provide thieves with instant access to your checking account and they do not provide you with the same identity theft protection as credit cards.

Tip #2: Don’t Let Your Credit Card or Debit Card Out of Your Site

Many identity thieves steal your account information easily and quickly by simply swiping your card through a special device called a skimmer. This is generally most common with waiters and waitresses when they take your credit card from your table and to the register in order to pay your bill. With your credit card information successfully stolen, the thief can then have an online shopping spree or even make a counterfeit credit card using your account information.

Tip #3: Photocopy All of Your Credit Cards and Accounts

As soon as you get a new credit card, debit card, or account statement, make a photocopy and store them in a secure place other than your purse or wallet. Make certain to photocopy the account numbers, the customer service telephone number, and the expiration dates. This way, the information is easy to find if your cards become lost or stolen or if your accounts are used in a fraudulent manner.

Tip #4: Hang on to Credit Card Receipts

When paying for items with a credit card or debit card, never through the receipt in the trash. Part of your credit card information will be contained on the card and, in some cases, your entire account number may be printed on the receipt. Instead, put the receipt in your purse or wallet where it is safe and then make sure the receipts match up with your monthly statement when it arrives.

Tip #5: Don’t Give Out Information Over the Phone

Unless you initiated the phone call and you are talking to a trusted business, never give out your credit card information over the telephone. Many thieves call their victims directly and can tell very convincing stories – they may even already have some of your personal information – but you still should not give out information. If the caller claims to be from one of your credit card companies, hang up and call the customer service number on the back of your card to check on your account.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

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