Is it just us or did the holidays roll around a little early this year? With time flying by and holiday shopping approaching quickly, we thought it would be helpful for our audience if we covered the topic of mobile payment safety.  Mobile devices have made our lives so much easier haven’t they?

 

Gone are the days where you had no choice but to pack into the mall like a sardine and hope that that special gift was still on the shelf.  Now, there are a multitude of ways that you can get those gifts without even leaving your couch.  However, with this convenience comes additional risk to your security.  Identity thieves have also adapted as online financial transactions have become more and more prevalent.  That is why we have asked Lookout  to join us to help you stay safe while taking advantage of the convenience of shopping on those mobile devices.

This month’s #IDTheftChat will take place, as usual, on the first Thursday of the month which means we will be tweeting away on December 5th at 11:00am PST.  We will be talking to you about your concerns, stories and tips in regards to mobile payment safety.  Of course, Lookout and the ITRC will be there to provide you with excellent information. Here are the questions for this month’s event.

Q1: Your phone has become a digital wallet. What steps are you taking to protect your financial information?

Q2: When you use your mobile device for financial transactions are you worried about ID Theft?

Q3: Online shopping has never been easier. What devices do you trust to make purchases with?

Q4: Which mobile payment apps have you used? Do they feel safe?

Q5: What’s your favorite tip for online shopping?

Q6: Have you ever had a shady experience during a financial transaction on your mobile device? What happened?

Q7: How do you tell which links are legitimate when browsing the web on a phone?

Q8: How do you think we can bridge the gap between convenience and security on mobile payments?

This month’s event should help produce great collaborative thought and perhaps even some unique and novel solutions to safe mobile payment methods. In order to participate, users should follow the hashtag #IDTheftChat . Those who would like to participate can RSVP via online invitation.  Everyone is welcome and we hope that we will see consumers, businesses and organizations alike!

Participants may find it helpful to participate through the #IDTheftChat Twub which can be found at http://twubs.com/IDTheftChat.  Anyone who has questions should contact ITRC’s Media Manager at nikki@idtheftcenter.org. We hope you will join the conversation and bring your friends!

I have been waiting for a certain day all year long. No, it isn’t Thanksgiving where I get to eat as much turkey as I please or Christmas Day when I will undoubtedly receive numerous pairs of my favorite slipper socks.  It’s Cyber-Monday and I am counting down the days.  Last year I managed to get 6 pairs of shoes for under $50.

These weren’t flip flops either. There were heels, boots, wedges… You name it; I was having it shipped to my house. Of course the shipping was free, as
well.  I spent a better part of 6 hours shopping online that day and not for one second did I stop to think about how safe I was being with my personal information. I came away from my little frenzy safe, thank goodness, but I may not have been so lucky.

Cyber Monday is a day when consumers are looking for those “Too Good to Be True” deals because it is Cyber Monday and those deals exist on this one magical day. If you think cybercriminals don’t take advantage of this day and the hurried  mindset of online shoppers, you’re wrong.  Cybercriminals know that on any other day you wouldn’t click on link for an ad claiming to offer “Buy 1 iPad, get 2 free”, but on Cyber Monday you just might. Of course, the ITRC wants you to get those deals, but we also want you to stay safe and protect your identity while you are doing it.  So, here are 3 tips to help you avoid becoming an identity theft victim while you shop till your mouse drops.

  1. Use Secure Sites: Secure websites use security technology to transfer information from your computer to the online merchant’s computer. This technology scrambles (encrypts) the information you send, such as your credit card number, in order to prevent computer hackers from obtaining it “en route.” This reduces the number of people who can access the transaction information. The following items shown on your web browser will indicate a connection to a secure web site.
    • https:// The “s” that is displayed after “http” indicates that the website is secure. Often, you do not see the “s” until you actually move to the order page on the website.
    • A closed yellow padlock displayed at the bottom of your screen. If that lock is open, you should assume it is not a secure site.
  2. Research the Vendor or Website: It is best to do business with companies you already know. If the company is unfamiliar, investigate their authenticity and credibility. Conduct an Internet search (i.e. Google, Yahoo) for the company name.  Third party review sites also offer good information regarding what other consumers have experienced.  Sites such as the Better Business Bureau and Yelp are useful tools.  The results should provide both positive and negative comments about the company. If there are no results, be extremely wary. Remember, anyone can create a website.
  3. Credit vs. Debit: The safest way to shop on the Internet is with a credit card. In the event something goes wrong, you are protected under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act. You have the right to dispute charges on your credit card, and you can withhold payments during a creditor investigation. When it has been determined that your credit was used without authorization, you are only responsible for the first $50 in charges. We recommend that you obtain one credit card that you use only for online payments to make it easier to detect wrongful credit charges and keep your other cards from being exposed.  Keep the limit on the credit card as low as you need to meet your shopping budget. No use in have thousands of dollars in open credit if you won’t use it.  This will only allow the thieves to do as little damage as possible if they do in fact, get a hold of your information.

The above tips are three easy ways to protect yourself from those cyber criminals out there who have their eyes on your identity while you have your eyes on that plasma TV at half price. Use them to make sure you come away the victor on Cyber Monday rather than the vanquished.  In addition, if you find any amazing deals on shoes or jewelry, feel free to let me know. You know… just for research purposes.

So Many Shoes, So Little Security: Your Guide To Cyber Monday” was written by Nikki Junker.  Nikki is the Media Manager at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

From time to time, here at the Identity Theft Resource Center, we partner with our sponsors to conduct surveys in order to find out more about how we can help consumers.  Recently we concluded a survey with our friends over at Private Wi-Fi and the results were stunning.

During the course of the survey we had more than 700 people respond to our questions. What we found really opened up our eyes to the bigger picture of just how everyday consumers use public Wi-Fi and what their concerns are. Below are 3 findings which we thought were extra important.

  1. 76% of survey takers said that using free Wi-Fi can lead to identity theft.  This startling statistic showed us that a good percentage of people know just how dangerous using free public Wi-Fi can be.  The word is out on the Internet and in the news that identity thieves are now using public W-Fi hotspots to pick up your personal information to commit identity theft.  The ITRC was happy to hear about this level of awareness on the issue.
  2. People were 3 times more likely to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot if it was free.  Free is good, right? Not so much when it comes to your security.  Private W-Fi came up with a concept they call “The Convenience Factor” and it is something we have been thinking about for some time here at the ITRC. Basically, it means that the desire for convenience will override a person’s desire for security in many cases.  This is an important issue to consider when we try to show everyday consumers how to stay safe.  If the advice is not convenient, people will not take to it as easily.
  3. There is some risky business going on during consumers’ use of public Wi-Fi. Of those who took the survey, 71% had accessed their email using public Wi-Fi.  Even more frightening was the amount of personal banking information consumers were making available to identity thieves.  More than one in ten of the survey takers had banked online using public Wi-Fi and 13% had shopped online using a credit card. Yikes!

In addition to everything we learned, all of the information from the survey was put into a fantastic infographic by the people over at Private Wi-Fi. The infographic is titled “The Ultimate Guide to Staying Safe on Public WiFi” and it is a great way to get the word out to people about being safe while using public Wi-Fi.  You can view the infographic below.  Please feel free to use the code below the graphic to embed it into your site to help consumers learn more about the dangers of Public Wi-Fi and how they can stay safe!

Public WiFi Dangers: In Pictures” was written by Nikki Junker.  Nikki is the Media Manager at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

Free WiFi Costs More Than You Think

HTML Code for embedding:

<p><strong>Please include attribution to privatewifi.com with this graphic.</strong></p> <p><a href=”http://www.privatewifi.com/infographic-76-say-free-wifi-can-lead-to-identity-theft” _mce_href=”http://www.privatewifi.com/infographic-76-say-free-wifi-can-lead-to-identity-theft”><img src=”http://www.privatewifi.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/freewifi_FINAL.jpg” _mce_src=”http://www.privatewifi.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/freewifi_FINAL.jpg” alt=’Free WiFi Costs More Than You Think’ width=’660px’ border=’0′ /></a></p> <p>

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the year. With so many holiday sales being offered and only so many days left till Xmas, shoppers flood the stores and the internet in droves. And so do scammers.  In the fever for trying to find the best deals, be on the lookout for scam artists, con artists, and thieves.

Black Friday Risks:

  • Never leave your purse or wallet unattended. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to take your purse/wallet in an unattended cart while you step away to examine a potential gift.
  • Never let your credit card out of your sight. Skimming machines and devices that record your card information are small and easily hidden in a palm, under the counter, or implanted in a machine. Never let a salesman take your card some place where you can’t see what they are doing with it. This also applies to fast-food and drive-thru and restaurants.
  • The holidays are the time when people will ask you to fill out surveys or other forms for the chance to win a car or a trip to an exotic location. Be careful if you fill these out. Often times these places are actually gathering information on you. Never give them your social security number, driver’s license number or banking information.
  • The holidays are the time for giving and many charities are out collecting for their cause. There is never anything wrong with donating to a reputable organization, but scammers are out in force as well. Avoid giving checks or credit cards when making a donation. A thief can use this information to scam you in the future. When in doubt, donate physical items such as toys or clothing, or look up the company online and see if they are reputable. Many charities have a “donate here” button on their website so that you can send the money or items directly to them without a middleman.

Cyber Monday Risks:
With so many websites offering such great deals and scrambling for your attention it’s hard to decide what ads are legitimate and which ones are not. But if you keep the following in mind you can be safe in your online shopping.

  • Try to shop at reputable websites such as sites that you have been to before or have a high rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Avoid clicking on pop ups. They may look like they are from a legitimate store, but they could be a ploy to take you to another site designed to get your financial information.
  • Never give your social security information online. You do not need to give this information when purchasing an item online.
  • Be on the lookout for emails telling you that you owe money to sites you have never been to. Check to see if this company actually exists. If so, see if there is an account under your information. Often scammers will pose as a legitimate company in order to trick people into giving up their information
  • Be on the lookout for emails claiming to be from a charity organization. Many scammers will pose as a charity in order to prey on holiday good will. When in doubt, look up that charity with the BBB or find their actual website and donate to them directly. Do not use the information in the email.

And remember, always check your credit card statements at the end of the month and check your debit card purchases at least once a week. This is the best way of catching fraudulent transactions and reporting them immediately.

If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Anyone3 fundraising campaign.  For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.

The geo tagging feature on your smart phone can be a very cool way of allowing people to know where you took a beautiful scenery picture, attended an interesting event, or even serve you as a digital road map to locations associated with fun experiences you’ve had over the years in just a few clicks of the mouse or touches of the screen on your phone. Geo tagging makes it easier for you to arrange photos and let friends know where they might be able to replicate some enjoyable experience you had.

As with most modern technological conveniences, there is also risk to consider when using your Geo tag capabilities.  Primary amongst these is the risk of “social surveillance.”   Most of us who use social media regularly are familiar with social stalkers.  These modern creepers make use of the information you publish on social media pages in order to track your movement, your habits, and your associations.  Stalkers can make use of public geo tagging information to pinpoint your present location, find out where you live, and even how and where you spend your time with very little effort. This very fun feature of modern smart phones can also potentially put your safety and security at risk, depending on who you are, and the value to anyone who might want to track your movements.

The point is not to scare you, but to note the risks and be wary.  It pays to know the risks, and have an air of caution when using this feature.   Avoiding the risks of geo tagging is definitely something consumers need to be wary of as privacy continues to erode in our ever more electronically connected society.  What follows are a few best practices to keep you safe while geo tagging.

  1. Take the time to note your default privacy settings: This applies both to your smart phone or mobile device and the social media networks you access through your device.  To geo tag something is simply attaching GPS grid coordinates to a picture, video, website or text message.  Sometimes tagging a location maybe a default setting on your phone or on the social network you’re using.  It is important to be aware of these settings so you can consciously decide when and where you geo tag, and who the information will be available to.
  2. Understand the Risk:  Realize that geo tagging information gives anyone who views it the opportunity to know your exact whereabouts, particularly in instances where you’ve posted your location to multiple sites (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram).  A check-in at the airport with the message “vacation for the next week!” for example lets anyone who might care to look know that you’ll be out of town for a week.  If you’ve also been geo-located at your place of residence in the past this information could be very valuable to a thief looking for an opportune time to break in.  Additionally, if you use the geo tag feature regularly, it can also give others an understanding of your movement patterns, which will give anyone with an interest in stalking you a picture of your routine, allowing them to predict where you will be and when.  Be aware of who in your network will have access to this information, as it’s possible that not all of them are really your “friends.”
  3. Know How to Disable the Geo Tagging Feature: Every smartphone has a geo tag feature, and many of them will be automatically set up to function without you consciously choosing to have it do so.  You need to take the time to figure out how to prevent it from doing this.  It’s a much better idea to consciously decide to geo tag each time you post rather than having to remember to opt out of geo tagging each time you post.  Leaving the default setting as geo tag operational will likely mean there will be times when you inadvertently post your location to the world when it is risky or unnecessary to do so.

For iPhones: Go to the “settings” page of the geo-tagging program.  Go to “settings” then “general” and then “location services.”  Disable those applications that automatically make use of your GPS tracking data.

For Android Platforms:  Start the camera application.  Open the menu and go to “settings.”  Turn off “geo tagging” or “location storage” (depending on the type of Android).

For digital cameras, be sure to consult the user manual.  Not all digital cameras come with a geo tagging feature, but it’s important you know how your particular camera operates in relation to location tracking.

“Geo Tagging and Do Not Track” was written by Matt Davis.  Matt is Director of Business Alliances at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

The Florida Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism unanimously supported the Keep I.D. Safe (KIDS) Act this Monday, a bill designed to help reduce child identity theft in the state. Florida is a known hotspot for identity theft and fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) compiles and analyzes complaints submitted to the FTC, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Better Business Bureaus and other organizations by crime and state in an annual report titled the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Florida has been listed by the report as the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints for the last four years in a row.

Children, and especially foster children, are vulnerable to identity theft because they are considered high value targets by identity thieves. Due to their lack of a credit report or history, they are blank slates that an identity thief can abuse for years before the child or parents ever find out. When the child first applies for a credit card, student loan or anything that requires credit, they discover all the fraud that has been conducted in their name and are denied the credit.

Child identity theft is detrimental to the child as it can postpone college due to student loan denials, gaining employment, purchasing their first vehicle, and accessing credit. This delay lasts however long it takes the child to dispute all the fraudulent activity and have them cleared from their credit reports, which can take months or even years.

During the announcement for the bill, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Adam H. Putnam said, “more than 50,000 Florida children are victims to this exploitation each year, and more than $100 million is stolen every year from those whose identities are compromised.” Adam Putnam has worked with Sen. Nancy Detert and Rep. Heather Dawes to introduce the KIDS Act, which is estimated to prevent 10,000 children from identity theft each year and save Florida more than $21 million annually by department economist Sergio Alvarez.

The KIDS Act (SB 242, HB 151) will follow in the footsteps of Maryland’s child identity theft law in that it enables parents or guardians to create a credit report for their children and subsequently freeze it to block an identity thief from abusing their credit. The House KIDS Act bill was referred to the Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee just yesterday and has not scheduled a vote as of yet.

Florida Child Identity Theft Bill Progresses in Senate” was written by Sam Imandoust, Esq., CIPP, CIPA. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

November 7th is the first Thursday of the month and that means it is time for another Identity Theft Twitter Chat.  This month’s topic is mobile device safety and identity theft and we are very happy to have Christopher Burgess, CEO of Prevenda, as our co-host.  Don’t know how he is? Well you should because it isn’t often you get to talk about mobile safety with someone who used to be in the CIA!

We are very excited about this Identity Theft Twitter Chat as we are all nomophobics over here at the ITRC.  This Identity Theft Twitter Chat is just another way that ITRC is really trying to reach mainstream consumers to make them aware of identity theft and we think this is a great topic to do just
that.  It is our hope that this chat will reach those who may not consider participating in a twitter chat based around identity theft or cybersecurity, but would be interested in mobile device safety.

This Identity Theft Twitter Chat will take place at 11:00am PST on November 7th.  The questions that we will be basing the discussion around are:

Q1: How old were you when you got your first mobile phone?

Q2: How many mobile devices do you have?

Q3: What do you do with your old mobile devices?

Q4: Do you have anti-virus on your smartphone or tablet? Why or why not?

Q5: What concerns you most about mobile device safety?

Q6: Have you ever had a mobile device stolen? What happened?

Q7: What do you do to keep your identity safe on mobile devices?

Q8: What tips do you have for people to keep their identity safe on mobile devices?

Q9: What resources do you use to teach your kids about mobile device safety?

This month’s event should help produce great collaborative thought and perhaps even some unique and novel solutions to safe mobile device usage. In order to participate, users should follow the hashtag #IDTheftChat . Those who would like to participate can RSVP via online invitation.  Anyone is welcome and we hope that we will see consumers, businesses and organizations alike!

Participants may find it helpful to participate through the #IDTheftChat Twub which can be found at http://twubs.com/IDTheftChat.  Anyone who has questions should contact ITRC’s Media Manager at nikki@idtheftcenter.org. We hope you will join the conversation and bring your friends!

Prescription fraud occurs when an identity thief, using your personal information, has a prescription issued and possibly filled under your name. Prescription fraud is just one consequence of medical identity theft, where a thief obtains enough of your personally identifying information to be able to assume your medical identity.

Prescription fraud affects the victim in many ways, including their finances, ability to get necessary health care and possibly their ability to check their own health records. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft, 60% of medical identity theft victims they surveyed indicated that their identity was stolen to obtain prescription pharmaceuticals or medical equipment.

An identity thief using your identity to be prescribed restricted medications may also use your health insurance to purchase the medication. This means that you, the victim, will often get left with the bill for any unpaid expenses the identity thief incurs while using your identity and medical insurance. It is important to be alert for any explanation of benefits (EOB) you receive from your health insurance provider or bills for medical services you did not seek or receive. This may be your best warning that an identity thief is abusing your medical identity and insurance.

Unfortunately, there are worse consequences to being a victim of prescription fraud than bearing the brunt of fraudulent medical bills. When an identity thief uses your medical identity to be prescribed medication, this information will be incorporated into your health record. Any subsequent medical personnel looking at your record will see the new prescriptions and make medical decisions based on this fraudulent record.

Lastly, it can be exceedingly difficult to set your health records straight after an identity thief has received services or prescriptions under your name. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, strict rules prevent access to patients’ medical records by unauthorized entities or individuals. Sadly, this very same rule prohibits victims of prescription fraud from accessing their personal health records in order to correct it because health care providers fear it may be a violation of the identity thief’s rights to confidentiality of their medical records.

The best defense to prescription fraud or any identity theft is to be keenly aware of your personal information. Any documents that contain personal information such as your birth date, Social Security number, driver’s license number, or insurance plan information, should be stored somewhere safe and secure or shredded when no longer needed. Do not carry your Social Security card, military identification, or Medicare card on your person as they have your Social Security number on them and are extremely helpful in the hands of an identity theft. New military identification cards no longer have Social Security numbers on them, so if you have an old military ID you can always renew your card to reduce your risk of identity theft.

Prescription Fraud Resulting From Identity Theft was written by Sam Imandoust, Esq., CIPP, CIPA. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

Senator Edward J. Markey and Rep. Joe Barton will soon be reintroducing their Do Not Track Kids Act, a bill that would update the existing Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), The Hill reports. Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Rep. Barton, the co-char of the Congressional Bi-partisan Privacy Caucus, believe that COPPA needs to be updated to reflect the new “Internet ecosystem” of the 21st century.

They cite a recent report from Commonsense Media that found 70% of children under the age of eight have used a mobile device and those children spend triple the amount of time on these devices than in previous years. The Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 proposed several key updates to COPPA that weredesigned to curb the tracking of minors’ activities on the Internet.

These updates included:

  • Restricting operators of a website, online service, online application, or mobile application directed to minors from collecting personal information if the purpose of doing so is for targeted marketing purposes.
  • Creating a Digital Marketing Bill of Rights limiting how, when and what information from minors may be collected by website operators.
  • Requiring website operators to provide clear notice about what geolocation the operator collects and how they use it, obtain verifiable parental consent prior to information collection, and provide to the minor or parent any geolocation information collected by the operator upon request.
  • Requiring website operators to implement mechanisms, or “eraser buttons,” that allows users to delete content that is publicly available on the website and contains or displays personal information of the minor.

The Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 is similar to California’s recently passed SB 568, approved by Governor Brown on September 23rd. A common theme in both of these bills is the restriction against collecting information about minors for the purpose of targeted marketing purposes, although SB 568 only restricts information collection for the use of marketing certain products, not all. In addition, both pieces of legislation include a requirement for allowing minors to request the removal of certain content or information posted to a website; however, the Do Not Track Kids Act limits this requirement to information or content that contains or displays personal information of the minor.

It will be interesting to see if Sen. Markey and Rep. Barton make any changes to the new bill, such as banning the advertisement of certain products to minors on websites like SB 568 or requiring operators to disclose how they will treat Do Not Track signals from users’ browsers. We will be following the progression of this bill and keep you updated on any new provisions that may be added when reintroduced.

“Lawmakers to Reintroduce Do Not Track Kids Act” was written by Sam Imandoust, Esq., CIPP, CIPA. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.

For consumers who may be unaware, skimming is a tactic used to steal credit card information. The thief can procure a victim’s credit card number using basic methods such as photocopying receipts or more advanced methods such as using a small electronic device to steal a victims’ credit card numbers.

In order to avoid becoming a victim of credit card skimming, here’s a list of the five most common places skimming occurs:

1. The Gas Pump 

The gas station is a favorite for thieves who use skimmers. This is because there are multiple credit card slots sitting outdoors, none of which have a clerk or employee directly monitoring their use.  Typically thieves will install a small electronic reader (which can be seen if closely observed) on the existing card reader. This additional illicit reader will store your credit card information as you swipe your card to activate the gas pump.  They’ll then come back later and pick the reader up in order to make use of the stolen credit card information.

2. ATM Machines

This is a popular choice for the same reasons as the gas station.  Thieves can leave a skimmer on a card reader outdoors and leave it to collect your information.

3. Restaurants/Bars

Usually, in these circumstances, the theft is pulled off by one of the actual employees of the establishment you’re visiting.  Either utilizing a small, mobile card reader or by waiting until you open a bar tab and walk away, a skimmer in this circumstance will either scan or otherwise store your credit card number in order to run up illicit charges in the coming days and weeks. Most of us never think twice about leaving our cards unprotected in the hands of an employee at the restaurant or bar we frequent, and the majority of servers and bartenders are honest, hardworking people.  But beware those few bad apples.  Just to be safe, it’s always good practice to close out your bar tab after each drink order (unless you know the bartender personally) and pay attention to what your server does once they walk off with your card.

4. Department Stores

The next time you go clothes shopping, be sure to pay close attention to the clerk who swipes your card.  Department stores can be potential hot spots for skimming because much like a restaurant or bar, it is not unusual for a clerk to leave your sight to process the transaction, making the temptation greater, and the successful completion of the scam easier.  Sometimes a skimmer will pay an inordinate amount of attention to the number on your card, so if they seem to be staring as though trying to memorize your number, or examining it front and back as if they’ve never seen such wonders before, it would be smart to watch them closely.

5. Call Centers

Do you order goods or services over the phone? Buyer beware, especially of call centers in foreign countries where the phone operators are paid very low wages.  In these cases, there’s a higher likelihood that one of these operators will use the credit card number you supply over the phone for their own personal gain.

The same concerns exist if you use a debit card.  However, the risk of damage to you is greater with a debit card, since you don’t have the same legal protections as a credit card.  Skimming a debit card requires that the thief also get the security PIN for the card, which does make it more difficult.  However, as the ITRC has seen, crooks can and do also seek debit card information.  So, you should be very careful of any transactions requiring the use of your debit card PIN where clerks or other bystanders could gain access to the card and the PIN at the same time.

If you suspect you’ve become a victim of credit card skimming, contact your credit card carrier and your bank and inform them of the fraud. Check your statements regularly so you can catch fraudulent activity as soon as it happens.  In some cases, you may be required to file a police report, but most complaints filed with your bank or credit issuer within 30 days of the fraud will be forgiven.


If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530.