The most effective identity theft solutions are all based around ways to stop identity theft from happening or detect when it is happening. Around 3 million Americans per year are affected by identity theft. Businesses are affected as well, with identity thet costing billions of dollars in stolen money and efforts to stop these new types of thieves. While law enforcement is swamped trying to prevent this growing problem, the real way to keep it from happening is to know the ways to stop identity theft in the first place. Read on for the five most effective identity theft solutions.
Never use Debit Cards
Debit cards are vulnerable to identity theft more than credit cards. This is because credit cards go through a credit card company, while debit cards allow someone access to your personal bank account. This allows them to draw money directly out of it until you notice, report them, and the account can be frozen. The less you can use debit cards, the better. Truthfully, not using debit at all is probably the best plan, especially with all of the new fees that banks may be charging associated with using debit cards.
Only use Credit Cards at Places you Know
Credit card information can be stolen in a number of different ways. Thieves are technically savvy and have created card-thin devices that read people's credit card information entered into a machine after they swipe it. Once they have this digital information, they can use it for their own means. Other card-sized devices are stuck into credit card machines at gas pumps or parking meters, so that when people swipe their card the credit card, all your personal information is immediately copied over. Only use your credit card at a business you trust or that you have been to before. For everything else, use cash.
Check Your Bank and Credit Card Statements Regularly
Check your account statements on a regular basis to make sure you at least recognize all the charges. Do this even if you don't have corresponding receipts or memory of how much they were for. If there is any identity theft going on, you will likely see it immediately and be able to call your bank or credit card company to challenge the charges. In most cases, you will be able to get these charges reversed, as long as the credit card company or bank believes you didn't make those purchases.
Be Stingy With Your Personal Information
Don't enter in personal information online very often unless you are buying things from websites that are secure and you trust. Never enter things like your social security number unless you absolutely have to. Otherwise, all of this information can be stolen or just turned over by some random, untrustworthy company to identity thieves.
How to Stop the Damage
If you find out your identity has been stolen, you will need to immediately do specific things to protect yourself. First, file an identity theft report to the city, state, and federal authorities. This way, they can get it in their system and creditors can have an official notice that these purchases and future marks against your credit were not caused by you. Second, close all the accounts that were fraudulently tampered with. And last, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission so that they have the information of how your identity was stolen in their files. This will help to minimize the damage caused by identity thieves as much as possible and help to stop them in the future.