Identity Theft Growing Nationwide [AUDIO]
There are many people trying to get their hands on your credit card information, and if it hasn't happened yet, you're likely to become a victim of identify theft in the future.
The use of another person's personal information to commit fraud is heading toward becoming the nation's top method of property crime.
According to Lieutenant Steven Jones with the New Jersey State Police, consumers can do a few things to lessen their chances of becoming a victim.
"Your PIN is a very important number to protect," Jones said. "Don't feel stupid about using your hand to shield your other hand while entering those numbers."
Many times, though, thieves don't need a PIN. Scammers have learned to latch their malicious programs on to businesses' computer systems, giving them access to bundles of credit card information everyday. Credit and debit card numbers are then sold to third-party buyers for, potentially, hundreds of dollars.
Recovering from this type of infiltration can be very costly for businesses. Those costs can sometimes trickle down to consumers.
Jones suggested choosing the credit option over debit at the checkout counter, especially when dealing with an unfamiliar location. If one's debit card is wrongly used, the funds come out of the victim's account right away. When using credit, victims and the credit card companies have some time to settle disputes.
Jones warned that some identity theft can begin at a homeowner's mailbox. If the forms for a "pre-approved" card get in the wrong hands, the perpetrator can go as far as applying for the card and grabbing it from the victim's mail without a trace.
"If people are in an area where they're really unsure about the security of their mailbox, put a lock on it," Jones said.