Friday, December 21, 2012

Tis the Season for Identity Theft --Tips to not be a Victim





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“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”    ~ Benjamin Franklin.

Recently a friend discovered her credit card numbers were being used very close together and without her permission.  Robin Burcell, who has a diverse background in law enforcement and who is also an incredible author, shared these thoughts.  Hope you find them useful.  ~ Donnell


With multiple card #s stolen so close, I'd look to see where they've been used. Internet only? Only in stores? combo? Or not at all, and suddenly your #s are being stolen? Those questions can help you pinpoint the source of the theft. But now that the horse is out of the gate, here are ways to help you make sure that once you get it back in, you can reinforce the security:

1. As mentioned, cards should now be carried in an RFID secure container. (You may have seen the reports on the news, where someone can walk past you with a device and copy the numbers from the strip on your cards.)

2. When shopping on the internet, NEVER EVER use your debit card. This allows a thief, hacker, whomever, access to */your/* money, not the bank's. You may be protected, but there's nothing more fun than having to contact every merchant, trying to get fees for bounced checks waived, etc. Domino effect. Not worth using cash/debit only via internet.

3. It is best to have one card only (credit, not debit) for internet shopping and nothing else. It's best to have a limit on it, and fairly low. That way you know where it's been and your main card isn't stored in some hacker's soon-to-be database. If it is stolen, they can't charge up a storm before the theft is discovered. They'll abandon it fairly soon.

4. PayPal is great, but if you have it connected to your debit card instead of your credit card, you are in for a world of hurt if someone is disputing charges, falsely charges, etc. PayPal is not a bank. They don't operate with the same laws and restrictions. One of my good friends had a merchant charging her PayPal account for something she did not buy, (not even a fraud charge, just disputed) and it took forever before she got her money back. In the meantime, she was short cash, because it came out of her checking. She was socked with fees for bounced checks. If you have a PayPal account, and it is hooked up to a debit card or checking account, I would highly suggest changing that ASAP to a credit card. Then you are offered the protections from your credit card. I would not want some non-bank internet based company to have access to my checking account, no matter how secure they say they are.

5. When buying gas, you should use a credit card, but if you use a debit card, use it as credit, not
debit (if your bank allows). More secure, since you're not entering your PIN in public. (And obviously, don't carry PIN and card together.)

Happy Holidays from your former fraud investigator and ex-cop:

--
Robin Burcell

THE DARK HOUR Dec. 2012
THE BLACK LIST Jan. 2013
http://www.robinburcell.com



6 comments:

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Oh my gosh, these tips are so helpful. I always use my debit card to stay out of debt. Will from now on use my credit tag on my debit card and off to adjust Pay Pal. Thanks, Robin!

Anonymous said...

I tried to leave a comment, but got kicked out. Here's basically what I wanted to say about other precautions I take:

I have four accounts in one bank and they are not linked to cover overdrafts. I keep close track of my balances at all times, checking them daily. I only keep enough money in the main account that's linked to a debit card to cover immediate expenses. I never pay with a PIN number. One account is savings. All excess money is kept there. I also have one account for EFT transactions, those direct pay deductions. I pay nine bills through that account and only keep enough money in there to cover what I need to pay.

I'm going to change how I use Amazon. At my grocery store, if I buy an Amazon gift card, I get double reward points toward reduced gas prices. I'll start keeping gift card balances to cover all my Amazon purchases from now on. And take out my credit cards. If they will let me take all three out. I may have to keep one to keep my account open.

Barb


--
Barbara Rae Robinson
barbrob@gmail.com
http://barbararaerobinson.com

Anonymous said...

I tried to leave a comment, but got kicked out. Here's basically what I wanted to say about other precautions I take:

I have four accounts in one bank and they are not linked to cover overdrafts. I keep close track of my balances at all times, checking them daily. I only keep enough money in the main account that's linked to a debit card to cover immediate expenses. I never pay with a PIN number. One account is savings. All excess money is kept there. I also have one account for EFT transactions, those direct pay deductions. I pay nine bills through that account and only keep enough money in there to cover what I need to pay.

I'm going to change how I use Amazon. At my grocery store, if I buy an Amazon gift card, I get double reward points toward reduced gas prices. I'll start keeping gift card balances to cover all my Amazon purchases from now on. And take out my credit cards. If they will let me take all three out. I may have to keep one to keep my account open.

Barb


--
Barbara Rae Robinson
barbrob@gmail.com
http://barbararaerobinson.com

Mary Frances Roya said...

Great suggestions. Thanks

Susan Paturzo said...

I just went on Amazon and bought an RFID blocking wallet using a credit, not a debit card. I also need to change how I have PayPal set up. Very useful information!

Robin Burcell said...

Barb,
I also have my main savings unlinked from my ATM. Good advice!

Here are two sites that discuss RFID, for those interested in knowing what can be done. The new RFID wallets sold are not RFID proof. They're only "resistant" if that makes sense. (I've seen them for sale at Walmart, so if you're looking for a cheap one...)

The first link is to Consumer Reports, and they're pretty thorough in their testing. The second is from a college student who tried basic aluminum foil, and then a shield available online and sold at retail.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/june/money/credit-card-fraud/rfid-credit-cards/index.htm

http://www.omniscienceisbliss.org/rfid.html