Cyber criminals are always one step ahead of consumers and the rampant credit fraud they commit can affect your credit report for years, hurting your credit score and increasing the interest you receive on loans.
Consumers with lower credit receive a higher interest rate for: car, student and personal loans and even mortgages because they pose a higher risk to lenders.
If you suspect credit fraud and would like to review your credit history, please review your credit score at Credible without affecting it negatively.
Protecting your credit score of identity theft is important because this type of organized crime is often sneaky and the behavior can go undetected for several months.
Identification and credit card fraud are common and built into the business model of most financial institutions, said Michael Isbitski, a technical evangelist at Salt Security, an API security provider.
“If a fraudster tries or succeeds in compromising identity or credit card information, don’t blame yourself and don’t get overwhelmed with guilt,” he said. “At some point, every citizen and customer becomes the target. Fraudsters are ubiquitous, persistent, cunning and often well-funded. They will use a wide variety of attack methods to obtain the information and use it for financial gain.”
There are several ways consumers can: protect their credit and credit card information against the dangers of fraud and identity theft.
1. Avoid Those Robocalls From “Credit Card Services” because it’s all scams – hang up and ignore.
“You should never give personal information or account details to a telephone agent who calls you out of the blue,” said Hitesh Sheth, CEO of Vectra, a technology provider that uses artificial intelligence to detect and track down cyber attackers.
2. Change your passwords regularly and do not use the same password for: multiple financial accounts, said Shet.
3. Learn to recognize the fake phishing emails from banks, credit card companies or even credit rating agencies. They’re not hard to spot after a while — look for bad grammar and typos or hyperlinks that reveal strange or unfamiliar URLs when you mouse over the link, Sheth said.
“Coach the elderly in your area to be skeptical about robocalls, cold calls, and unexpected email attachments,” he said.
4. Read your monthly credit card statements.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t,” Sheth said. “Mark purchases you don’t recognize. Most banks these days make it easy to dispute a summary charge on your card.”
5. Receive an annual copy of your credit history, which is offered to you free of charge through the three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Consistent credit monitoring can help you detect fraud and errors faster.
“In fact, some legitimately reported information may be inaccurate and should be corrected,” Isbitski said.
You can improve your credit score through Credible’s partner product Experian Boost by choosing and verifying a positive payment history to add to your credit file.
6. Sign up for SMS and email fraud alerts for any bank and credit card account so that you are notified when new charges are incurred. Ideally, set thresholds so you don’t create alert fatigue for yourself, he said.
“Fraudsters will often test the waters with small transactions of about $1 to see if stolen card information is valid and if the bank’s fraud prevention systems detect it,” Isbitski said.
7. Sign up for multi-factor authentication at any bank and credit card company. This can be email or text message.
“These mechanisms provide some login security for accounts, making it more difficult for fraudsters to access or modify your banking information online,” Isbitski said.
Make sure passwords aren’t your only security control, says Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic, a provider of privileged access control solutions.
“One way criminals steal your identity is by taking over your accounts,” Carson said. “Don’t make it easy for them. Use strong access controls to protect your most important accounts with a password manager and multi-factor authentication.”
8. Limit the number of cards used online to one card – if there is a fraud problem, only one card needs to be replaced, said Brandon Hoffman, chief information security officer at Netenrich, a provider of IT, cloud and cybersecurity operations and services. The damage is significantly reduced, Carson said.
“Being a victim of card fraud is generally not a problem thanks to many of the protection laws and processes implemented by card issuers and processors,” he said. “However, identity theft can quickly become a nightmare that a person can get caught up in for years.”
Credit card fraud is common and almost everyone becomes a victim at some point. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips and help from friends and experts, Carson said.
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