Identity theft ranks highest on the Federal Trade Commission’s list of Consumer Fraud Complaints. Even the most diligent among us cannot completely safeguard our personal information at all times. Identity thieves are becoming more adept at stealing personal information in some very simple (and sometimes surprising) new ways.
Mobile phones equipped with a small camera are just about everywhere it seems. Is the person behind you in the line at the supermarket talking on the phone or using it to obtain your personal information? Avoid paying for items with credit or debit cards in places like the grocery store, fast food restaurants or other places where lots of people are bustling around.
Using a credit card for online purchases is incredibly convenient, but it can also be dangerous. A good way to protect yourself if to designate a separate credit card to use for online purchases. Avoid using a card that directly connects to your bank account, since this is an easy way for criminals to gain access to your personal information as well as your finances.
Make online purchases only from reputable websites, and be sure to print out the email confirmations of purchase. When your credit card statement arrives, go over it carefully and immediately alert the credit card company of any discrepancies.
When choosing a password for online accounts, be sure to chose something that is unique. Additionally, when selecting a way to verify your identity in the case of a forgotten password, avoid using “secret question” answers that can be easily obtained without much effort. For example, a common “secret question” is “what is your mother’s maiden name.” Any identity theft can just as easily obtain that information in addition to what has already been stolen.