It is very important to know the difference between Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft.
Credit Card Fraud is not something card-holders expect and usually they are the last to know. Usually your bank will ring you to confirm an out of character purchase or, if the risk is great, they will just stop close your account.
Naturally they don’t tell you how they know so much, but they do have a monitoring system that works, keeping everything as safe as possible. Here are some methods used by thieves.
- Malicious Software: Thieves install their own software into a point of sale systems where they can capture credit card details. They do this on any device they can access or, more useful to them, they install malicious material into the parts used by the manufacturer of point of sale devices. These include cash machines, gas pumps
- Network Hack: Not often, but when the transmission of data, from card suppliers to banks, is stolen, millions of cards are compromised
- On-line store is hacked: A database or website compromised at an online merchant's website..
- Inside employee crime: This often occurs when you pass your card to a person to process. These may be small car hire outlets, hotels and or restaurants when an employee copies the card for later counterfeiting.
- Lost or stolen card: We usually know when this happens but if not the Bank contacts you very quickly. These are the smallest number of card frauds and can be recognised by a very small 'test transactions' by the thief to see if the card is still active.
Identity theft is when your personal information, including your name, date of birth, address and other details, are used by persons to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, start an illegal businesses, or apply for a passport, or any other purpose, all in your name. Your details may also be used to commit serious crimes, such as money laundering and even terrorist acts. They may even legally change your name to one they prefer, making it very difficult for you as you now do not appear to exist.
Identity thieves are after everything that contains your personal information: bank and credit card statements, labels on medicines, bills, driver's licence, passport, investment reports, superannuation records, storage media such as CDs and USB devices, and any document that contain your identity number when submitting a tax return or in writing to a government organisation.
There are several ways in which you can stop your identity from being stolen.
- Never give your personal details to people you don't know
- Be careful what information you give on social networking sites. Facebook and Twitter is a money making information source thieves can use to obtain personal details Once they target a person they can see where they are going and what they do. They research and identify family and or friends, where the target works and what is their job. This is useful to establish how rich the target is. Once they know everything about the target and note regular patterns. They know exactly when no person is at home so they can carefully break in and steal information left lying around. They do not steal anything but information and leave without leaving any evidence of being there.
- Log out when you leave social media and bank websites and email accounts. Most bank website disconnect automatically if there is no usage but always log off anyway.
- Secure personal documents at home in a fire and waterproof container or a good quality safe deposit box in case your home is burgled or damaged.
- Destroy personal information when no longer required, particularly bills, statements and expired cards to prevent thieves from using them.(invest in a shredder)
- Never click on a link or call a phone number in an email. Always type the website address into your browser- Don't click on a link in any email or open emails requiring you to enter your personal information. They could be scams.
- Check your credit card and bank statements
- Banks never ask customers to give them details of their account. Thieves can make a copy of bank paperwork that is so good they can easily fool customers. (Think about it, the banks don't lose your information and have no need to send it to them again by email or on-line)
- Review your credit report (Someone might be borrowing money using your name)
- Carry only essential information with you.
- Secure your mail letter box
- Keep your phone or other mobile device safe and with you.
- Protect your mobile or smartphone (Only download apps from the official app store or market Do not load new apps without checking them)
- Enable security settings on your mobile device Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS when not in use.
- If you receive a phone call from someone you don't recognise, dont answer it. If it is important they will contact you another way. Once you recognise numbers as being from sales persons or regular unknown create a name for them. Give all such numbers the name SCAM. Makes it easy to delete when they call again
- Make your passwords hard to guess. 1P2as5sWord* needs a powerful computer a long-time whereas many people use 'password' as their password
- Always scan devices such as USBs or external hard drives for viruses, before opening them on your computer. A anti-virus program can be purchased for use on your computer, but make sure it is well-known.
- Disable pop-ups on your browser.
- Never use public computers for banking or payments (your account details may be stored on their computer)
What to do?
With Credit Card Fraud deal direct with your Bank. If you notice something wrong tell them immediately. Each card company has an office in every country and there usually a 24/7 hotline. Most cards have a number on the back of the card you can use but it might be hard to read so do an on-line search. When talking to your Bank, they will need to know full details of the last transaction that you made personally. They may also ask you to identify yourself because someone may have stolen your phone as well. Any wrong answers will not help. If your cards are important to you and you cannot wait for a new card to arrive try having another card as a backup, (or you can always use cash). Banks usually refund illegal spending not authorised by you.
Identity Theft is very difficult because an almost identical clone of you has taken over your life. They have proved to the people, where they are running up your debt, that the person they are dealing with is really you After all they only need enough to satisfy them. For example a Photo ID needs to be signed on the back stating that the person on the photo is you. A photo of the imposter together with say an electricity bill showing your name and address is enough to get them a Photo ID using your name. These thieves are expert in taking over. Identity theft can be devastating, both financially and emotionally. But don’t despair because there are things they cannot do. Until they change your photo they cannot look like you, neither can they know your answers to secret questions and other things so relax and concentrate on getting your life back. Here some things to do immediately. Time is important so do not delay.
- Report it immediately to the police - Ask for a copy of the police report as banks and financial institutions will want to see it. Take this police report and make at least 20 copies. Take these copies plus the original to an attorney or a person legally authorised to verify documents (such as a Justice of Peace). Each copy to be marked "This is a true copy of the original document" This become legal copies that you can leave with any organisation)
- Contact your bank or any organisation that provide you with finance. If possible visit them personally, particularly if you know any of the staff. Tell your bank, credit provider or the relevant company what has happened. If your stolen details has been used to open new accounts request they be closed or cancelled. Also set up new accounts and PINs. Again try and obtain a signed written record of your visit and what actions taken. The more you get the easier for some organisations to accept your claim that you are the real you.
- You may not know if your driver's licence, passport, citizenship papers, health or Insurance card, birth, marriage and change of name certificates, tax file number, superannuation or pension details have been compromised, you will have to contact all of them. Take the original document together with your list of signed written records of visits to others.
- If you have investments alert your stock broker, financial planner or fund manager. Same protocol of showing what you have done with others
- Most countries have a credit reporting agency inform them that you have been a victim of identity theft so they can note it in your file. Ask them to check your credit report to see if any companies have checked your credit history recently, and after that contact each of them to not to authorise any new accounts in your name. (Keep in mind that you too will be blocked from making new credit arrangements) Request that your meeting with them be confirmed in writing with both Parties to sign on their letterhead
- Some countries have a government departments that provides a service to help you with Identity Fraud .If you find one make sure you get to see them as soon as possible.
- Keep a hand-written diary. List every meeting and its outcome and show what paperwork is relevant.
- Keep two sets of documents to include original or certified copies with one always secured as backup.
- Improve the security of your home
This post is from a draft of our Modern Guide to be available in 2017. For further information please send us a message