I have been the target of ID fraud twice so far, and I can tell you that it isn’t funny when you notice strange transactions on your bank statements, and imagine that someone out there is pretending to be you. The first story is actually pretty weird, because the person stole my ID and my checkbook (back in 1998 when using a checkbook was still an acceptable payment option) and I don’t know exactly where it happened, but it must have been really close to home because a week or so later, I went to McD for dinner, and the staff looked at my credit card and told me I wasn’t myself, that Pauline had just had dinner here and tried to pay by check, but the manager rejected the payment because they got suspicious of the person not looking too much like her ID picture. Of course, that was me!
The second time my card got cloned in a restaurant in Mexico and after the holiday I was back home when someone started withdrawing cash from Colombia… with the credit card that was still in my pocket! It was really strange to imagine how powerful hackers can be, and to know that even without the physical credit card, they were still able to charge my account to the tune of $500 a day. Here is how you can protect yourself and avoid such unfortunate circumstances.
How can ID fraud happen?
Generally, ID fraud happens when you make a purchase online, via an unsecured network, or website. It can happen when you log into your bank account at Starbucks and another person having coffee there happens to be a hacker, and it can happen when you log in at home and someone has hacked into your personal wireless router. Although it is not that frequent anymore, people who want to steal your identity can also get some of your written information, such as a form you sent back on the mail, or your record on a public file. You will not notice it until it is too late, but you can take a few measures of protection.
How to protect yourself from ID fraud
First, when you are accessing your online accounts, make sure you are on a secure server, and a secure connection at home. You can protect your computer with a firewall, and once you are online, the little lock should appear to say that you are on a secure server.
When you are paying for an item online, use networks that you know you can trust, such as major merchant sites and payment systems, and if possible request that your bank adds extra security checkpoints before the payment is approved.
Beware of Payday Loan ID fraud
The USA payday loans industry is generally less regarding than a bank when lending a person funds, their ID check process is less thorough. That is why you are at risk that another person asked for a payday loan under your name. If they do it in several states, they can rack up a lot of debt before you notice that happening.
You can subscribe some ID fraud cover to make sure that you won’t be asked to pay back the funds should that happen. Check here if the payday lender is licensed to do business in your state.
I have a broader insurance that comes as a perk with my bank account, that will refund me any fraudulent online payments and up to a certain amount if my card gets stolen and I report it as soon as I find out. It really helps me worry less about ID fraud.
Edwin Taivonen writes for localcashguide.com, a website where consumers can learn more about the USA payday lending industry and find a reliable lending company or an alternative cash option. Follow him on Twitter.