Saturday, December 10, 2011

Make Sure Your Are Protecting Yourself From Identify Theft This Holiday Season



Now that holiday shopping is in full swing, one thing that many people overlook is making sure they are protecting their identity from identity theft, as well as keeping an eye on our credit report.  We are too busy rushing around picking up holiday gifts and getting ready to host families dinners, that we are careless when it comes to checking our credit card and bank statements for odd transactions that you didn’t make.  And, with more and more people bypassing the retail store lines and doing the majority of their holiday shopping online, this opens you up for potential identify theft.  I should know, as it happened to me last year.  Once January rolled around, I had over $2000+ worth of charges that I didn’t make, all from other states in the South and on the West Coast.  After hours of phone calls, waiting on hold, and then writing up and documenting things for the claims department, the credit card company finally marked these charges as fraudulent and removed them from my credit card balance.  You don’t know the headaches and hassle I went through to fix this.  While speaking to someone in the Fraud department, they asked if I had checked my credit report to see if other credit card accounts were opened, as a result of my computer being hacked and my personal informational, including my banking and credit card accounts being exposed.  I hadn’t thought of this.  My main concern was to make sure that these charges would not go against me and that my current account was closed out, and a new card was issued.  But, the customer service rep had a good point, and after I got off the phone with her, I looked online for sites that let me order my credit report, as well as get my free credit score.  I was also concerned with my credit score because if numerous accounts were opened as a result of my information being stolen, then my credit score would be affected as well.

Luckily, after checking my credit report and credit score online, only this one credit card was hacked and used.  I have to say this was one of the most stressful situations to rectify.  It ranks up there with closing on a house.  So, instead of worrying about who is accessing your personal information through unsecure shopping sites online, make sure you are a “smart shopper” this holiday season.  And, after the holidays, don’t forget to order a copy of your credit report to check for any unusual accounts, etc.  This will save you on unnecessary headaches and hours on the phone.

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