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Learn Ways To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft And Credit Scams
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If you thought identity theft and credit scams only occurred in seedy establishments or in the dark corners of the Internet, think again. A recent article by NBC New York reported on November 17, 2011, that dozens of waiters from high-end New York City and surrounding area steakhouse restaurants were arrested in an identity theft credit scam ring totaling at least an estimated $1 million.

How Did They Do It?

The waiters allegedly used an identity theft technique called skimming, in which they allegedly scanned their customers’ credit cards with a handheld scanning device that retained the account numbers and other information. The information was then allegedly forwarded to other members of the group, where they allegedly obtained new credit cards with the stolen identities.

The new credit cards were allegedly tested on small purchases before attempts were allegedly made on much more expensive items. Customers whose identities were stolen had no clue that purchases were being made in their name or that their credit was being harmed. The alleged perpetrators were able to rack up at least an estimated $1 million in fraudulent purchases.

Wow. How Can I Protect Myself?

While there are many common-sense ways to lessen your risk from identity theft and credit scams, there is no 100% guarantee that you will not become a victim. Consumers are generally forced to play defense and may be able to protect themselves by shielding personal information such as account numbers and social security numbers, using secure websites and payment services, verifying all proprietors requesting personal information, and regularly and frequently checking their credit.

Checking your credit regularly and often is one of the best ways to catch a problem and take appropriate measures before significant damage is done. The problem is, most consumers likely don’t check their credit often enough to catch a breach in their security. This is where a good and reputable credit monitoring service may assist them in keeping track of their credit and provide an update when changes occur. It is important to review the features and terms of a credit monitoring service before signing up for a program.

Credit monitoring services may give consumers enough lead time to shut down compromised accounts or issue a fraud alert on their credit reports. A fraud alert may prevent identity thieves from opening more accounts with the stolen information. This allows consumers to go on the offense and do more to better protect themselves rather than waiting for a call from the police or receiving a large bill in the mail.

Identity theft and credit scams may cost their victims not only money, but it may take years to rebuild their good credit. A low monthly fee paid to a reputable credit monitoring service may be a small price to pay for the added security and peace of mind. Consumers should analyze the cost-benefit and the reputations of the credit monitoring services they are considering and determine if it is right for them. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start when researching a company’s reputation.


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