Identity Theft Is Prevalent. How You Can Watch For It And Deal With It If It Happens To You.
Credit card fraud is just that, not identity theft. But it is lumped together with that heading and should not be. Justizz believes that 95% or more of “Identity Theft” is simple credit card fraud.
Here Is How The Thieves Do It.
They obtain your credit card information, usually your name, card number, expiration date, 3-digit code and sometimes your zip code. Usually it is dishonest employees, such as a restaurant server or gas station employee, who runs your car through a separate charge terminal to gather your information, or a mail-order employee who sees that information on your email purchase order.
However it happens, they can then use that information to buy or pay for goods and services on line or by phone where presentation of your actual card is not required. This is extremely common today.
How Will You Know?
When you get your credit card statement at month’s end and see charges you do not recognize (Justizz recommends you save all your receipts and match them to your statement-sometimes the thieves will charge a small amount, say $25, to thousands of cardholders, and many do not catch the fraud).
What To Do?
You must take two immediate steps. First, call your credit card company and explain what has happened. They will take the unauthorized charges off your account immediately (or should). But since your card number has been compromised, they will cancel your card and send you a new one quickly. You will be without a card for a couple days and you must notify all the vendors that have your card on file of your new card number-a pain in the neck. You can also, instead of calling, file a fraud report on your credit card’s website. Most of them allow you to do this. By doing so, a complete record of your problem can be viewed anytime in the future. You may want to, just to be safe, complete a RESOLVE A DISPUTE form from the Justizz menu, and send it to your card company by certified mail, just to be sure, or if you are not confident the card employee who took down your information was on the ball.
The credit card companies are usually very competent and resolve your problem quickly. You are not liable for the fake charges. But it is a bit of an inconvenience.
Identity Theft is a much more sinister act. In this case, thieves get your personal information, including date of birth and address, and most importantly, your social security number. They then use it to obtain services or privileges. Common instances are applying for a loan in your name, getting hospital treatment using your name, getting a credit card in your name, or applying for a tax refund in your name. They may try to withdraw money from your bank account, but this is almost impossible to do today unless a bank is extremely careless. The good news is that industry has tightened up its rules that prevent such scams. The number of instances is greatly reduced from even five years ago and it is very unlikely you will be a victim. Every company today that might be approached with the intent to scam you, require photo i.d. Photo i.d’s today are virtually impossible to counterfeit. So if a bank or lender, hospital accept someone using your name without proper i.d., it is their risk. Credit card companies do extensive background searches to prevent this, and if they do make a blunder, they should question the mailing address the card will be sent to if it is not yours on your credit report file. The tax issue was very big a few years ago, but the government has taken steps to limit or prevent such abuse.
In this case you do not have a credit card agency you can call. You will discover such fraud by either getting letters about debts you are not aware of, seeing unauthorized accounts when checking your credit reports, or seeing hospital or doctor visits on your medical insurance statement. You must now be proactive. First, use the Justizz RESOLVE A DISPUTE form to notify the entity that has allowed the fraud. Fill it out completely and send it by certified mail. You have now covered yourself! You should now call that entity and report the fraud-but do not reply solely on a phone call. Bad companies will conveniently ignore of lose your report to save money. That is why the dispute form mailed certified is so important. This will win your case if the entity ignores you and you are forced to sue them in Small Claims or a higher court. What should you to catch fraud early? Check your credit reports. Everything appears there, all of your credit or services requests requiring payment and using your social security number. How to do so is clearly and easily done by taking the steps in the Justizz module CHECK YOUR CREDIT. Justizz recommends you do so monthly-you can see any new accounts started in your name that are fraudulent and take earlier action. Also you should reconcile your bank account(s) every month to make sure no unauthorized deductions have been taken. Most banks today offer photos of all paid items so they are easy to check.
Justizz says no. Whatever they may do for you, you can do yourself, and save the high fees they charge. Basically they send you notification when any activity or change takes place in your credit file, like a new account. By checking your credit as explained in the prior paragraph, you can spot any fraud just as easily. These companies, in the event of credit card fraud (cited above) do nothing-they give you the steps to notify your card companies as this article does. What they will do for you in case of Identity Theft is questionable. Justizz recommends you do not use these services (usually $20-30 a month for each family member), and instead handle all notifications yourself so you know that they are done correctly and completely. Be proactive. Check your bank statements and credit reports every month. The Credit Karma site highly recommended by Justizz is very easy to access-use it monthly. You cannot prevent credit card fraud or identity theft completely, but you can take steps recommended herein to remedy any problems that arise.