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5 Tips to Avoid Having Credit Card Data Stolen

by Francine Huff

A computer hacker who stole data from almost 130 million credit card users received a 20-year prison sentence. The sentence for what is being called the biggest credit card and debit card scams in U.S. history was the toughest for any hacking case. His crimes costs businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

Credit Cards, Other Data Stolen

Computer hacking crimes aimed at getting credit card numbers have gotten more sophisticated and identity theft affects nearly 10 million Americans each year. But that doesn't mean you can't take steps to minimize the risk of being victimized. Use the following tips to stay informed about what is happening with your credit card accounts and avoid ID theft.

1. Use virtual credit card numbers. Some credit card companies offer virtual numbers for online purchases. These numbers only last for a certain period of time before they expire. Avoid using virtual credit card numbers for airline tickets, car rentals, or other purchases that later require you to present a card for verification.

    2. Review your credit report regularly to monitor your accounts. If your personal information is stolen and used to open fraudulent accounts they usually show up on your credit report. You can also request to have a fraud alert placed on your credit report for free to cut down on potential problems. Avoid expensive credit monitoring services that play on your fear. Regardless of what they might say, there is no 100 percent guarantee against having your identity stolen.

    3. Guard your social security number. Avoid using it as a user name or password on online accounts. When the receptionist at your doctor's office or some other place asks for the number decline to give it out and ask why they need it.

    4. Do not let other people use your credit card. There is no reason to give friends and relatives access to your credit card. There are many cases where ID theft is perpetrated by close friends or family members.

    5. Do not respond to emails that request credit card or bank account numbers. Legitimate businesses do not contact you out of the blue asking for credit card numbers. Also avoid responding to credit card offers sent via email. If you receive credit card offers that interest you, go to the official Web site and call the customer service number to get more information.

      Monitor Credit Card and Other Accounts

      Unfortunately, identity theft isn't going away as long as there are hackers working to access people's information. The hacker who received twenty years in prison actually drove around to various businesses to hack into their networks with a wireless connection. But if you monitor your financial accounts and use common sense you can cut down on the chances of having your identity stolen.

      Published 06/09/11 (Modified 08/03/16)


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