Common sense measures to protect yourself against identity theft

Identity theft is a common issue, especially when it is done to commit credit card fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is estimated that yearly, approximately 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft. Identity theft related to credit card fraud can leave victims in financial ruins for years. Yet, there are certain common sense precautions that you can adopt in everyday life to protect yourself to some extent.

Identity theft is a crime of opportunity

It is true that no one can be protected 100 percent against identity theft and credit card fraud. However, in most cases, these are crimes of opportunity and often perpetrated at random. With many transactions being done online, the risk has been heightened in recent years. Fraudsters wrongfully lay hands on another person’s personal data, typically with the intention of obtaining economic gains.

Common ways that identity theft or credit card fraud can happen

There are several relatively easy manners that fraudsters can obtain your personal data.

Shoulder surfing

Fraudsters often engage in “shoulder surfing”, that is, watching you or listening to you from nearby as you use your credit card

Pre-approved credit cards

Applications for “pre-approved” credit cards received by mail can be of high risk. You may forget to tear up enclosed material or your mail may even end up being delivered to the wrong place or to a place fraudsters may have access to. The latter may simply intercept it.


Fraudsters generally try to steal information by mass e-mailing. They pretend to be someone else and send out files that, once opened, may expose your computer to virus or spyware that can monitor your activities but also steal your sensitive data like credit card numbers when you are making online purchases. A common phishing strategy is to make you believe they are trusted retailers or even a bank asking you to click on a link.

Fraudsters can conduct a wide range of crimes

Once a fraudster is in possession of your personal data, he may conduct a wide range of crimes. These are the widespread ones:

  • Fake applications for credit cards and loans
  • Withdrawals from bank accounts
  • Fraudulent use of online accounts
  • Obtaining of goods and privileges by using your identity

Common sense habits to bulletproof your credit card and personal data

There are numerous habits that you can adopt to protect yourself and other things that you should never do.

Sharing a photo of your credit card

This may seem an obvious thing not to do. However, there are people who do share pictures of their credit card on social networks.

Scratching the CVV code

The CVV code, located at the back of your credit card, is useful only for online shopping. Think about saving it somewhere else and scratching it away from the card itself.

Do not sign your card

By signing the back of your card, you are also disclosing your signature. However, if you leave the space blank, a fraudster may sign it if stolen. You may use a black marker to blank the signature space.

Protect against remote reading

If you are using a contactless card, there is a great chance that you are at risk of remote attacks and privacy leaks. A fraudster may use a remote NFC reader to extract your credit card number. Indeed, it has been proven that it is possible to obtain this data from a range of 45 cm. To protect your data, it is recommended that you carry your credit card in blocking sleeves that can be bought on Amazon, for example. They are fairly cheap. Else, you can use a wallet designed specifically to protect all your cards, your ID and passport at one go. Several brands, such as Ogon, are available.

Destroy your old card and PIN letter

Make sure you destroy your old credit card and PIN letter. Think about investing in a shredder that you can also use to destroy other sensitive documents like bills, insurance letters, and bank statements amongst others.

Check your credit regularly

Many people do not even know they have been victim to credit card fraud until some transaction is rejected for bad credit. It is recommended to check your credit frequently. You may ask reports on a regular basis.

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