Christian Credit Fraud Protection
Effective Christian credit fraud protection starts with the cardholder. No matter how vigilant the credit monitoring company or consumer reporting agency are, the cardholder has a personal responsibility and a personal stake in ensuring that charge account information is kept safe. Charge card and identity thieves are expert at discovering confidential data and fraudulently using someone else's identity and account numbers to rack up huge amounts of cash in goods and services. While some consumers have gotten wise and rely on the services of 24-hour credit monitoring companies, taking a personal proactive stance against the white collar crime of credit fraud is the first line of defense. Credit fraud protection involves constantly and consistently applying some practical tips to make sure that account digits stay secure and away from criminals. While crooks may be able to con natural men, God is keenly aware of wrongdoers. "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray" (Proverbs 5:21-22).
Remembering how to apply credit fraud protection principles is easy. Just use the acronym, SCRAM! The letter "S" stands for store and shred. Properly storing charge cards in a purse or wallet or at home in a locked box or dresser drawer prevents curious eyes from copying account numbers or stealing cards. Be sure to shred account statements, cancelled checks, or old cards before discarding them. Thieves love to dumpster dive, looking for bits of information which could cost consumers thousands! The letter "C" will remind cardholders to diligently check and certify. When making a purchase, check and certify that each purchase is accounted for and no unauthorized items are included on the bill. Remember the letter "R" to retrieve charge cards at the checkout counter and make sure that receipts and carbon copies are not left lying around for thieves to access account numbers. At an ATM, don't leave receipts in the machine! Sometimes all it takes is the last four digits to make purchases over the phone without the cardholder's permission.
A is for always! Always refuse to give account numbers and Social Security numbers to telemarketers or merchants over the phone. When filling out electronic forms, make sure that web sites are secure. Safe sites, such as those owned by banks and other financial institutions, usually display a small lock-shaped icon at the bottom of the screen. Finally, think of the letter "M" when credit fraud protection is a concern. Memorize personal identification numbers, or PINs, which act as passwords to access account data; and never write them down, especially on the back of the charge card! That's an invitation for theft and unauthorized use. Carefully monitor every transaction to detect unauthorized purchases or entries on charge card statements and consumer credit reports.
Credit card statement and consumer report monitoring can be done by the cardholder or performed by companies which provide 24/7 surveillance of consumer report or charge account activity. Consumer reports keep track of an individual's FICO score, when and where new accounts are opened, lender report inquiries, and unusual or frequent purchases outside of the normal spending pattern. Monitoring agencies which specialize in credit fraud protection send consumers an email alert when scores fluctuate due to irregular buying patterns or suspected unauthorized activity. Consumers can then check reports and notify creditors or merchants regarding suspected fraudulent activity. Credit fraud protection backed by 24/7 surveillance helps keep consumers abreast of when, how much, and where money is being spent. Even if fraud is not an issue, monitoring can be used as a tool to keep charge card spending to a minimum and avoid late fees and escalating interest rates when accounts fall into arrears.
In the event that thieves succeed in absconding with confidential information and charge account numbers, consumers should contact card issuers immediately and report cards as stolen. Even when reporting a theft, vigilant credit fraud protection requires taking precautions and using discretion. Consumers should make sure to carefully ascertain that the individual on the other end of the line is an official of the card issuer's company and not just an answering service. Card issuers will be able to verify confidential information over the phone without the cardholder divulging personal data. Cardholders should also place calls to issuers from a secure, private location away from coworkers or strangers. Cell phone conversations should be conducted without publicly announcing that the card has been stolen. Some surveillance companies recommend not making confidential calls from a cell phone, which can be picked up over the airwaves and transmitted to other receivers. To be absolutely safe about relaying personal information, a land line telephone may be the best option.
Once stolen cards have been cancelled, monitoring agencies and merchants will screen reports and accounts to ensure that no one is still trying to make unauthorized purchases. In-store cameras and credit fraud protection monitoring are two tools merchants and monitoring services can employ to catch credit card thieves. With continued diligence, consumers should be able to ward off charge card convicts and keep private money matters private. Properly storing cards and shredding bills, statements and out-of-date cards; checking and certifying all purchases; retrieving receipts and cards at the ATM and checkout counter; always refusing to give out account and Social Security numbers over the phone or online, unless sites are secure; and memorizing PINs and monitoring statements and consumer score reports should all prove to be effective in deterring credit card crooks and keeping accounts safe.
Christian Protection From Identity TheftGetting protection from identity theft is on the lips of many Americans as they seek ways to keep from having not only their social security number and bank numbers stolen, but from their entire identities pulled out from under them by unscrupulous and very devious criminals. This is not a crime that can be stopped by a gun or bars over windows or five deadbolts on a security door. Rather, this crime can take place without the victim ever knowing about the crime until it is too late. The United States government estimates that up to nine million people each year have their identities stolen through various elementary and nefarious plans hatched in sometimes very creative ways. Each time this happens, lives can be turned upside down with often the outcome being the innocent victims arrested for various criminal acts brought on by the identity thieves themselves! Protection from identity theft is a new concept for most Americans to grasp, but is one that is extremely important to learn quickly.
More and more Americans are seeking help to get protection from identity theft because of the dire outcomes that can occur from such crime. At the least, recovering one's identity can take months to complete and cost hundreds of dollars in the process. At the worst, it may take years to recover a good credit report and get all of the credit violations off a person's credit history. In one notorious case of identity theft, the criminal, a convicted felon, not only incurred more than $100,000 of credit card debt, obtained a federal home loan, and bought homes, motorcycles, and handguns in the victim's name, but called his victim to taunt him -- saying that he could continue to pose as the victim for as long as he wanted because personal indentification theft was not a federal crime at that time -- before filing for bankruptcy, also in the victim's name. While the victim and his wife spent more than four years and more than $15,000 of their own money to restore their credit and reputation, the criminal served a brief sentence for making a false statement to procure a firearm, but made no restitution to his victim for any of the harm he had caused. After such violations like this one occurred, the government got serious about protection from identity theft and by 1999, it had become a federal offense to use someone else's identity for monetary gain.
Protection from identity theft really begins with all people understanding how the thefts take place and how each one can be proactive in combating the crime. For example, in public places criminals can watch over the shoulder of persons punching in passwords or account numbers at ATMs, telephones or kiosks. Criminals can listen in on conversations when credit card numbers are given out over the phone. The not so clever criminals can jump into dumpsters or go through trash looking for private information that can be used to access bank accounts or other financial records. Pre approved credit cards can be taken from mailboxes and the attempt is then made to activate them. If the criminal is bright enough to divert new bills and mail regarding new account activity to another address, the identity theft victim may not know the damage done against him for months or even a year. The damage by that time can be enormous.
Making oneself prepared for protection from identity theft is not difficult. It begins by not giving out any important information to anyone not known. If any person makes an inquiry about a person's social security number or other personal information over the phone, ask the person to send an application form by mail. Even the promise of winning a prize or other give-a-way should be dismissed unless the party is willing to send an application for information by mail. If there is still a doubt about where the inquiry has come from and protection from identity theft is a real concern, contact the Better Business Bureau for information on the company seeking said information. Jesus made it clear that anyone who tries to get into heaven by any means other than through him was the same as any identity thief. "Verily I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." (John 10:1)
Make sure that all important papers that are being thrown away are shredded before disposing of them. Even go so far as to mix the shreds up before bagging them. When traveling, a person should have all mail held at the post office, and if the need arises to talk to a trusted Christian friend about financial matters, do it in a telephone booth or wait until there is access to a private phone away from crowds. Protection form identity theft isn't difficult, but it takes the ability to think like a criminal to outwit them, at least at the most elementary levels. Making sure that there are no unexpected or suspicious activities on a person's checking or savings accounts as well as credit card accounts is a very important step to take at least every other month. Each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union have telephone numbers to report suspicious activity on a person's credit card account and these entities should be contacted immediately if fraud is suspected. In addition, protection from identity theft means that the Social Security Administration should be contacted if a person's social security number has been stolen or lost and the fraudulent use of that number is suspected.