What is credit card identity theft and how does it happen? This type of fraud can happen if you don't keep your credit card safe and secure. Here are some credit card safety tips that you should know to avoid becoming the next victim of identity theft.
As we move to an increasingly digital world, more and more of us are beginning to use digital ways of paying. This includes using our credit cards for transactions, be it big or small. But here’s the thing - along with that comes the threat of data breaches, fraud, and identity theft.
In an article by New Straits Times, CyberSecurity Malaysia’s MyCERT Incident Statistics 2008 said that 446 identity theft cases were reported locally. This was a sharp 20% increase from the year before. And with the Movement Control Order in place, the police announced that there were losses of up to RM6.7 million between April 1 - 27, largely believed to come from the increased online purchases made while staying at home.
"As our lives have moved increasingly online, so too has identity theft. The vast amounts of personal data available online, which often is not protected to an adequate level to keep it secure from cybercriminals, is putting Malaysians at risk.” - Trend Micro's managing director, Consumer, APAC, Tim Falinski to NST
But first.. what is identity theft?
It’s exactly like what it says - having your identity stolen.
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your authorization. In most cases, thieves steal credit card information, bank account information, identification numbers, and the like to make purchases and commit various other frauds.
How do you know if you’re a victim of credit card identity theft?
Several tell-tale signs come from identity theft. Among them:
1. There are unauthorized charges to your credit card
These charges don’t necessarily have to be expensive - thieves can use them to buy seemingly insignificant items too. They sometimes do this to test out the card to see if they have successfully stolen it.
2. When your application for credit gets rejected… even with a good credit score
Thought your “good credit score” would help you get a loan or a new credit card from the bank? If your application keeps getting rejected, the thief could’ve been quietly messing up your credit score by using your identity to get new loans. Always check your credit score for any suspicious activities so you’re always on alert.
3. A new credit card or credit card bill appears in your mailbox
Banks will NOT deliver a new credit card to you without your prompting. They deliver on two basis: sending you a replacement card, or sending you a new card. Either way, if you get an unsolicited card or an unsolicited bill for a new credit card under your name, this is a clear warning sign that someone has been using your ID to sign up for it.
4. Someone calls you to pay up for an outstanding debt
This could happen if your credit card bill has not been paid for a few months (e.g. your credit card is typically ‘dormant’ and you don’t usually check its statement). If someone has been using this credit card, you will not notice it until you get called by a debt collecting agency to pay it up. This could even happen if the thief uses your identity to secure a personal loan!
5. Your credit card bill is missing
It sounds creepy, but someone could be going through your mail to steal your credit card statements! Many banks nowadays opt to deliver electronic statements (sent to your email, or only downloadable online). If you haven’t done this yet, you may want to do so.
10 do’s and don'ts to avoid credit card identity theft
Credit card thieves will always try to outsmart their victims, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that we can do to first protect ourselves.
1. DO review each line of transaction in your credit card bill.
When you get your bill, or even as and when you want to online, check your transactions that each one of them was done with your knowledge.
2. DON’T make a payment on open networks.
Public WiFi and unsecured websites (site URLs that start with http:// instead of https://) make it easy for other computers to intercept your information. By putting in sensitive information, like your credit card details, thieves would be able to easily steal these for their malicious plans.
3. DO look over your shoulders before you pay.
Whether using a pin or making a payment online, just do a quick look around you to ensure there are no prying eyes trying to remember your details.
4. DON’T give your credit card information to unverified people.
Yes, this means even your credit card number. A lot of people think that it’s important to hide the last three digits (CVV) of your credit card, but the truth is that every part of your card should be kept private to yourself. If you ever find someone calling you on behalf of an institution, asking you to verify your credit card number, be wary. You should be the one to initiate the call and not the other way around.
5. DO call your bank immediately whenever something happens.
Whether you suspect funky business happening, or if you misplace your card, call your bank to alert them to check up on activities. You can also ask them to freeze your card until you find it back.
6. DON’T send an email with your credit card number.
As secure as emails can be, it’s so easy for people to hack into email accounts. Don’t increase the chances of someone catching your details - look for alternatives if the business you’re dealing with asks for your credit card number.
7. DO shred your documents.
Credit card bills that come in the mail should be destroyed in a way where thieves will not be able to make out your numbers. Thieves may dig through recycle and rubbish bins to search for information.
8. DON’T post photos of your credit card online.
There literally isn’t a single reason for you to do so. Posting a photo of your card online, even if you hide most of the numbers, is an open invitation for thieves. You’ll be surprised how quickly they can put the pieces together, as credit card numbers are created in a specific way. (E.g. all Visa card numbers start with ‘4’, the next five digits reveal the bank or issuer.)
9. DO disable auto-fills.
When shopping online, some sites may have an autofill feature so you don’t have to keep typing in your details. Avoid that - just key in your details when you want to buy, as such sensitive data stored can easily be stolen by hackers.
10. DON’T keep your phone logged in to your banking app.
Always log out once you’re done as your security can be compromised if your phone lands in the hands of a thief.
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