Guide 2 Identity Theft - How To Protect Yourself

   
Guide 2 Identity Theft

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Shredders

Basic Information
 What is Identity Theft
 How It Happens
 Types of Identity Theft
 Warning Signs

Commercial Identity Theft
 Access Codes

Watch Out For
 Credit Card Risks
 Public Records
 Debit & ATM Cards
 Passports
 Spoofs & Phishing
 Stolen Checks
 Unsolicited Card Offers

Security Tips
 Credit Reporting Agencies
 If Your Identity Is Stolen
 Secure Passwords

Links

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Guide 2 Identity Theft   >   Unsolicited Card Offers

Unsolicited Credit Card Offers


Unsolicited pre-approved credit card offers could potentially put you at risk of identity theft. A thief may steal from your mailbox, and seeing the promotional invitation to take out a pre-approved credit card, take advantage of this opportunity. If a thief intercepts such an application, completes it and sends it back in your name, the application is quite likely to be accepted. From then on there would be somebody operating a credit card in your name without you knowing anything about it - until trouble develops.

More sophisticated identity thieves may order a redirection or change of address of your mail, perhaps through the postal service or directly with the credit card company concerned. This allows them to take control of subsequent communication, including the delivery of the new credit cards. If you come across any evidence of such activity, it could be a warning sign that identity thieves may be interested or active in stealing your identity in some way. One thing to be on look out for, is sudden drop-offs in mail volume in that case you should check with your local postal center to find out whether a redirection order has been placed in your name without your knowledge.

Many credit card companies may send repeated offers. You can reduce your risk, if you can stop them when you get the first offer. Start by asking the company directly, but if they do not comply, there may be a direct marketing ethics body or a consumer agency in your area that can help you to get you off the company's mailing list.

Your liability is, of course, limited if it was not you who sent back the application. However, that does not mean you would free of the consequential hassles. You may become a "suspect", especially if your signature was forged, and be faced with having to argue against the credit card company. Meanwhile your good credit record may have been damaged, and it may take you some time, expense and effort to sort out the problems with banks, merchants and others who may have lost money when dealing with someone who presented himself as if he were you. In these cases, you may well find it necessary to engage an identity theft lawyer to help sort out all issues.

Fortunately, the credit card issuers are gradually getting better at understanding and managing these risks. Pre-approved offers are becoming less common however they have not disappeared completely - they are such a powerful marketing tool that these companies do not wish to abandon completely. Most credit card companies have improved their procedures to reduce identity theft risks, and are working on further improvements - but that doesn't mean that you can afford to become complacent!

These three tips can further reduce the risk of these types of fraud:-
  • Lock your mailbox, or use a mail center post box

  • If you throw out pre-approved credit card applications received in the mail, make sure they are well shredded before you do so

  • If you move house, have your mail redirected to your new address so it does not end up being left uncollected at your old address
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The information on this site is designed to help you understand the issues and improve your protection. No method of protection can be absolute. We recommend that you keep abreast of the ever-changing issues and do your own research to keep informed.

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