Fort Wayne Police Detective Chris O'Connor investigates the ever changing world of financial and computer crimes. He says there are many steps a consumer can take to lower the odds of identity theft, for starters, if the credit card will leave your sight, use a credit card and not a debit card.
"you have recourse if you use a credit card, your card may have a Visa logo on it, but it comes out of your checking account and if stolen, they can drain that account.", said Detective Chris O'Connor.
One terrific service that many may not realize exists is offered by the state and it's completely free. Go to Indiana.Gov/attorneygeneral and you'll find "place a credit freeze" in the upper right corner. This allows you to completely freeze your credit, meaning no one can open a new charge account. The card holder can access their credit with a temporary pin number.
"all you're doing is you're freezing all three credit reports. I'm locked, nobody can access my credit, nobody can get a credit card in my name, nobody can buy anything in my name. If you know you're going to be buying a car or something, you can go on the website and open it up for a seven day window", said Detective O'Connor.
It's also strongly advised that you know the contents of your wallet if it's stolen and never carry items like a birth certificate or social security card.
You've probably heard that, but do you recognize this symbol. If this "RFID" symbol is on your credit card, that's a card that's vulnerable to the readers. Even if it's in your wallet or briefcase, the thief can secure all the information from your credit card by just standing next to you.
"A person can be just walking past you with their reader and they can pick-up all your information without touching you. Those type of cards you should carry in a protective sleeve", said O'Connor.
It's estimated that over 100-million cards, passports and transit cards now have the RFID chip in them, creating an even larger market for thieves. If you don't want to spend money on the shielded sleeves (around $20), tin foil is also said to work around the credit card, a more simple protection for a growing high tech crime. Police say even those methods aren't one hundred percent effective, but they are strongly suggested to a consumer.
Useful Consumer Links:
www.idstronghold.com (website with RFID resistant products)
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