Why Thieves Don’t Need Your Credit Card to Sabotage Your Credit

JAN 15, 2014

It’s true that if your credit card information gets into the wrong hands, bad things can happen. But identity thieves don’t need your actual credit card — or even your card number — to sabotage your good credit. Before you become the next victim of identity theft, learn the steps you can do to prevent criminals from obtaining your financial information.

Undoubtedly, you should protect your credit card information at all costs by keeping cards on you or securely stored, only shopping online at trustworthy retailers, and by cutting up old cards and shredding any documents with your account numbers on them. Additionally, you must also be aware of the many other ways thieves are looking to use your credit.

Today, identity thieves go to great lengths to steal personal information, and with this information they can use and damage your credit without ever laying a finger on a credit card. For example, armed with information such as your name, date of birth, Social Security number and address, a thief can potentially obtain credit under your name. They can then rack up huge amounts of debt that, unbeknownst to you, is being reported to credit bureaus, showing up on your credit report and negatively impacting your credit score.

Guarding your personal information and data has never been more important. It may seem tough to keep all your information from prying eyes, but utilizing common-sense habits on a daily basis will go a long way toward keeping your information safe and your credit profile pristine. Here are a few things to do to minimize the likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft.

First, secure all your electronic devices. Between our computers, mobile phones, tablets, and even public technology usage, we’re constantly broadcasting personal information. Make sure all your devices are locked when not in use and require a password to gain access. A phone or tablet that gets mistakenly left behind is a prime target and holds a treasure trove of personal information.

Not only must your devices be secure, but also the connections you’re using. Wireless signals that aren’t encrypted can be intercepted by thieves. That means things like logins and passwords or even banking information could literally be stolen out of thin air. Don’t do any online banking or other personally sensitive tasks while using public Internet access.

While digital data is a common way for thieves to get their hands on your information, don’t discount traditional media. Thieves can use your paper trail to get much of the same information, so you should protect it as well. Receipts, discarded bank or credit card statements, and even junk mail are sources of information that thieves can target. Use a paper shredder to destroy all of your mail and important documents that go into the trash or recycling bin.

Above all else, check your credit report to verify the information included regularly. If somebody does get their hands on your credit, you typically won’t know until you see the suspicious activity on your credit report or unexpectedly get denied credit. The sooner you spot any unauthorized activity, the less damage done, and the quicker it’ll be to fix the problem.

 

 

About the Author
A financial planner turned retirement planning specialist, Jeremy Vohwinkle has been writing about finance since 2006. He holds various FINRA licenses and has obtained the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation from the College for Financial Planning.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Published by permission from ConsumerInfo.com, Inc.  © 2014 ConsumerInfo.com, Inc.  All rights reserved.