Identity theft, while not as common as generally perceived, is still a serious matter that deserves your attention. Learn to spot the signs, and if you suspect you’ve been victimized, you’ll be prepared to take immediate action.
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What is identity theft?
Using everyday items such as your driver’s license or Social Security number, a thief can assume your identity to open new bank accounts, establish new credit card accounts, write bad checks, obtain personal or car loans, or get cash advances – all in your name. They may even set up cell phone or utility services and run up bills, in addition to making charges on your existing account, obtaining employment or renting an apartment using your identity. Just one instance of identity theft can negatively impact your credit score and may create problems if you need to obtain credit in the future.
How does identity theft work?
Thieves use a variety of tactics to access your personal information. They may pose as someone with a legitimate need to gain access to financial data. Or the criminal could be a roommate, a worker in your home, or a friend who can easily get his or her hands on your documents. Identity thieves may even resort to rummaging through trash for pieces of non-shredded personal information, a tactic known as “Dumpster diving.” Data breaches are another way your information may become exposed.
How can Visa help?
Protecting your card information is our top priority. If you are a victim of identity theft, you can get help through Visa’s partnership with the consumer network Call For Action by calling (866) ID-HOTLINE or by visiting the Call For Action website to learn more. Read here about more ways to Get Help Now from Visa.
How can I reduce my risk of identity theft?
There are a few basic practices you should follow to increase your card safety.
- Monitor your credit card and account statements online on a weekly basis.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately and cancel all inactive accounts. When using your card at checkout, do not volunteer any personal information.
- If you’ve applied for a new card and don’t receive it in a timely manner, or if a replacement card is not received prior to your card’s expiration date, contact your financial institution immediately. Be sure to sign new cards upon receipt, too.
- Shred sensitive documents before disposing of them, install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers, and change your passwords regularly.
- Get more tips on protecting your financial information here and from the Better Business Bureau.
Where can I learn more about Visa’s security measures?
Find out more about Visa’s Zero Liability1 policy, check out our Identity Theft Assistance page for steps to take in the event of identity theft, or access our Tips for Protecting Yourself to learn how to stay safe when shopping online or at retail stores, at home or while traveling.