SOURCE: CreditCardChaser


October 02, 2014 12:21 ET

The Top Four Ways to Protect Yourself From Credit Fraud, Announced by

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwired - Oct 2, 2014) - Identity theft affects nearly one in three consumers, and it can result in harsh financial consequences. Once the thief has your personal information, he or she can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new accounts, and more. This can significantly damage your credit score and finances, and it is a huge mess to fix.

Luckily,, a leading expert on credit, has announced some easy tips to protect yourself from fraud. According to their findings, these are the top four ways to secure your credit from fraud:

Manage Access to your Personal Information

To put it simply, someone intending to commit credit fraud can't impersonate you if they don't know who you are. However, if someone does get your personal information in sufficient quantity or type, they can not only impersonate you, but obligate you financially in many ways. There are dozens of financial transaction types that can be conducted remotely. Purchases, loan applications, bank account applications and the sale of property can all be conducted nearly anywhere with nothing more than a phone.

How easy it is for someone to do these transactions fraudulently depends on their access to your personal data. Make sure that data never gets into their hands. Store it securely. Give it only to those who absolutely need it. This will prevent the majority of potential problems.

Monitor your Accounts

Being aware of what is going on in your finances is just as necessary as knowing who is in your house. You don't leave your front door open all night. You shouldn't leave your accounts unattended either. No financial account should go longer than three days without at least a quick look to see what is going on. Are there any unusual charges? Is there an unusual balance? If so, why? Who can give you more information?

Finding the name of someone at your financial institution who can follow up on unusual events should be on your list of things to do, preferably as soon as you open the account in question.

Know Who You Are Doing Business With

Giving your credit card number to Clem's Auto Body in Somewhere, Wyoming is probably not the world's greatest idea. There is nothing stopping any merchant from using that credit card number and the information that goes with it to cause all kinds of mischief including fraud. Be certain the people you intend to do business with are reputable, established businesses with some kind of a track record.

One excellent side strategy is to use two credit card accounts. One should be set up with a very low limit. This is the card you use for everyday purchases. You can give that number to anyone, because if they steal it or try to commit credit fraud, they get a low limit card that doesn't do them much good.

The other card is your high-limit "really good" card you use for larger purchases. This one can have a higher limit because you won't be giving it to Clem's Auto Body.

Use a Credit Monitoring Service

This goes back to the recommendation to watch your accounts. That is always good advice but there are some things that won't show up in your existing accounts. For these kinds of threats you need a service that can watch your credit accounts for you and alert you to any unusual changes. A credit monitoring service will notify you, for example, in the event someone tries to open a new account using your personal information.

Credit fraud is a major problem. When you are aware of the problem and you have a plan of action, the effects of fraud can be minimized or avoided altogether, and your finances won't be at risk. By simply being aware of what is going on with your finances and following these tips, you'll be sure to stay fraud free.

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