Imagine getting ready to make some holiday purchases for your loved ones and you go to check your credit card balance, but you notice something’s not quite right. You spot some unfamiliar charges and your balance looks horrific.
Uh ohhh … it’s the last thing you wanted to see this holiday season.
Sadly, this happens a LOT. More than a million Americans are victims of fraud, and about 250,000 have their identity stolen every year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Want to find out how to stop it from happening to you? Keep reading.
Two Types of Theft: Fraud and Identity Theft
There are two types of theft you need to be concerned about when it comes to your credit: Fraud and identity theft. Both are bad.
- Type #1: Fraud. Fraud happens when someone uses your account to buy products and services. Maybe the physical card was lost or stolen, but that isn’t always the case. Criminals can find your account number by other means, like through unsecure websites and email phishing.
- Type #2: Identity Theft. This type of theft occurs when someone pretends to be you and opens an account in your name. They could also use your good name to do crime, work, use hospital or other services and even vote.
Signs of Identify Theft
The best way to identify theft is to continuously monitor your credit report for unfamiliar charges and accounts. Monitoring your credit report is a proactive way of making sure theft doesn’t go unchecked. The faster you contact your creditors and authorities, the better you’ll be able to control the situation.
Two other signs of theft include receiving sudden emails or phone calls from your creditor and getting mail from accounts you didn’t open.
What to Do If You Spot Theft
Finding out you’re a victim of theft or fraud can be devastating. However, it’s crucial to take the next steps to control how much money or credit is taken from you.
Contact your creditors right away and report the issue to your local police. You may also want to “freeze” your credit, so the criminals won’t be able to keep stealing from you.
Identity theft and fraud can hurt your credit, especially when you let it go unchecked. Your best bet is to always look over your statements and credit reports.
Most credit card companies are online now, which will allow you to quickly see all transactions during the month. Get into the habit of checking your recent transactions online each week, and report anything that looks strange to your creditors.
One way to stop fraud and theft is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Monitoring your credit will help you quickly stop any more damage from occurring. Want more tips on credit and identity theft? Go here: Schedule a Free Consultation