Carry your cards
separately from your wallet, in a zippered
compartment, a business card holder, or another
Keep a record of your
account numbers, their expiration dates, and the
phone number and address of each company in a secure
Keep an eye on your
card during the transaction, and get it back as
quickly as possible.
Save receipts to
compare with billing statements.
Open bills promptly and
reconcile accounts monthly, just as you would your
Report any questionable
charges promptly and in writing to the card issuer.
Notify card companies
in advance of a change in address.
Lend your card(s) to
Leave cards or receipts
Sign a blank receipt.
When you sign a receipt, draw a line through any
blank spaces above the total.
Write your account
number on a postcard or the outside of an envelope.
Give out your account
number over the phone unless you're making the call
to a company you know is reputable. If you have
questions about a company, check it out with the
Better Business Bureau.
think you've been the victim of fraud or a scam, immediately follow these
steps. The faster you contact the proper authorities,
the more likely you are to minimize the damage a scammer
can do to your identity, your credit, and your bank
Close any affected accounts
Contact the genuine company
or organization if you believe you've given sensitive
information to an unknown source masquerading as that
real company or organization. If you contact the real
company immediately, they might be able to lessen the
damage to you and others. Then:
Speak with the
security or fraud department about any
fraudulently accessed or opened accounts at every
bank or financial institution you deal with,
including credit card companies, utilities, Internet
service providers, and other organizations that have
your personal information.
Follow up with a
letter and save a copy for yourself. When you open
new accounts use strong passwords, not passwords
such as your mother's maiden name, along with a new
Change the passwords on all of your online accounts
When you change your
passwords or open new accounts, use strong passwords.
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports
In the United States,
contact these three credit bureaus:
Equifax (800) 525-6285
Experian (888) 397-3742
TransUnion (800) 680-7289
For each of the
Get a copy of
your report (victims of ID theft can receive
copies of their credit reports for free) and ask
that no new credit be granted without your
Make sure your
account is flagged with a "fraud alert" tag
and a "victim's statement," and insist that the
alert remain active for the maximum of seven
requests in writing and keep copies for
reports carefully. Look for things like
inquiries you didn't initiate, accounts you
didn't open, and unexplained debts.
Outside of the United
States, you can contact your bank or financial
institution, who can direct you to the relevant
organization or agency.
Freeze your credit reports
A credit freeze is a way
to block your credit reports to make it a lot tougher
for an identity thief to get a loan or open a credit
account in your name. While a freeze is in place, no one
- not even you! - can open an account in your name.
Lenders, insurers and even employers doing background
checks are not able to access your credit file.
You can have the freeze lifted, or "thawed," if you need
to get new credit, but you have to give the bureaus a
specially issued personal identification number and a
few days' notice to do so.
You probably need to
freeze your credit if:
You've already been the victim of "new account"
If someone stole enough information about you to
open a credit card account or get a loan in your
name, then you need to make sure such fraud doesn't
On the other hand, if the
thief just swiped your credit card or credit card
number, a freeze is definitely overkill. Just report the
theft to your credit card issuer, fill out its paperwork
and go on your way with your new card.
You've been told that your personal identifying
information has been compromised.
More than 200 million personal records have been
stolen, hacked into or otherwise compromised since
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
started keeping track in 2005. You probably don't
need to bother with a freeze if thieves accessed a
database that contained just your credit card
number. Credit card fraud is relatively easy to
catch and fix without long-term damage to your
you want to institute a credit freeze, follow the links
TransUnion to find
instructions on how to go about it.
companies offer to place fraud alerts or freezes for
you, it doesn't make much sense to pay others to do what
you could do yourself for less (or for free, in the case
of fraud alerts). Don't institute a freeze if you're
about to be in the market for credit, and make sure your
PIN is kept in a safe place so you can thaw the freeze
when you want.
In the United States,
contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
File a complaint.
If you are a victim of any type of identity theft,
you can report the theft by calling the FTC's
toll-free Identity Theft Hotline at (877) ID-THEFT
or (877) 438-4338. Counselors will advise you on how
to deal with the credit-related problems that can
result from identity theft.
Download and print
the FTC's Identity Theft affidavit. Fill it out
and send it to all the financial institutions at
risk to help minimize your responsibility for any
debts incurred by those who stole your identity.
Your case will be entered in the FTC’s nationwide
"Consumer Sentinel" database of ID theft cases,
which helps law enforcement agencies find criminal
patterns and catch the thieves.
File a report with
your local police department. Get a copy of the
police report to notify your bank, credit card
company, and other creditors that you are a victim
of a crime, not a credit abuser.
Record and save everything
As you complete all these
steps to clear up the wrongdoing, always make print
copies of documents for yourself, including e-mail
messages, written correspondence, and records of
telephone calls, and file them somewhere safe.
For telephone or in-person
conversations, follow up with dated confirmation letters
to the organization, and save a copy for yourself. State
in the letter what was covered in the conversation, and
list any follow-up items that you or the representative
have committed to in the conversation.