Credit and identity fraud have become common occurrences in today's society. Since 1999, the primary category of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is identity fraud. Not all consumers are impacted financially when credit fraud happens and they report it promptly to their financial institution. These consumers are often forced to endure major inconvenience to correct the situation. Lastly, we all pay for the costs of fraud in the form of higher prices, higher interest rates and increased inconvenience.
While there are a number of ways thieves commit credit fraud, the two main types to watch out for are:
- New account fraud: the unauthorized use of another person's good credit and personal identification information to open new credit accounts.
- Existing account fraud: using another person's existing account information to fraudulently obtain products or services.
Sources of credit fraud
Here are some of the different ways credit thieves can obtain your personal information:
- Using lost or stolen credit cards
- Stealing mail from your mailbox
- Looking over your shoulder in a store or at an ATM
- Going through your trash
- Sending unsolicited email or text messages
- False telephone solicitation
Be on the lookout for warning signs of fraud
One of the best ways to minimize credit fraud is to become a frequent user of online or mobile banking. The reason is active online or mobile banking use is an effective way to spot unusual account activity as it happens.
Other things to be on the lookout for:
- Information about inquiries or accounts you did not open on your credit report
- Unexpected charges that show up on billing statements
- Bills that arrive from unknown or unfamiliar sources
- Sudden calls from creditors or collection agencies
With the widespread nature of this problem, identity protection products are available to cover yourself against loss just like you protect your home, car and other valuable assets. Bellco has partnered with Identity Fraud, Inc. to offer special Bellco rates on different protection plans.