Identity theft is the most common form of consumer frauds. It occurs whenever someone else uses your personal information, such as a credit card number, to steal from merchants, from credit card companies, or from you. Armed with a very little personal information, a clever thief can borrow someone’s credit identity and run up thousands of dollars in debt. To protect your privacy, follow these guidelines:
- Offer no personal information (such as your address, telephone number, PAN or Aadhar number) to merchants when using a credit card. If the merchant requires identification beyond the credit card (for example, a driver’s license), do not allow such information to be written down or photocopied.
- Save all purchase and ATM receipts, and regularly check them against statements from creditors and sellers.
- Do not give out your credit card or checking account number on the telephone to anyone you do not know or did not telephone directly yourself.
- Never give your card verification value over the phone or online to a merchant unless you initiated the contact with the merchant. This is the three- or four-digit code in the signature strip on the back of a credit card.
- Review your credit report at least once each year.
- Report lost or stolen credit cards and suspicious billing information without delay, especially if you make Internet purchases.
- If your credit card is lost or stolen, or if you ever suspect fraudulent use of an account, contact your credit card issuing bank immediately and block the card.
- Tell all of your financial services companies (banks, lenders, insurance companies) that you want to “opt out” of any information-sharing programs they maintain with affiliated or external companies.
- Never respond to e-mail messages from your bank stating that your account may have been compromised and you need to provide account information such as account numbers and passwords even if the e-mail message looks authentic. Your bank will never ask you for this type of information in an e-mail.
- Immediately change the marital status linked to your credit card account if you become married, separated, or divorced.
- Shred all credit card statements containing account numbers. [/responsivevoice]