Jan 04 2008
Rich’s latest post hits one of my pet peeves right on the head: Credit card fraud is not identity theft. Even in the security industry we tend to use the two terms interchangeably, but they’re really not all that closely related. Credit card fraud is a serious, and growing, concern, but for the victim it’s nothing compared to having your identity stolen. In fact, many of us have probably already been victims of credit card fraud and didn’t even know it; most of the banks and credit card processors have enough processes in place to catch unusual transactions on your account and put a halt on them before you ever see them on your bill. After all, it’s much better for them to take the hit and transfer the liability back to the merchant than it is to annoy a customer with bills that are bogus. You did know that credit card fraud gets charged back to the merchant, didn’t you? The logic is that they should have caught the fraudulent transaction rather than letting it pass.
The closest I’ve come to identity theft myself was someone in Los Angeles who was using my social security number to get a job over a decade ago. I had some ‘splaining to do with the IRS, but the person had been nice enough to not try using my SSN to get credit or buy a house. It was relatively easy to deal with, though I have a sneaking suspicion that there was an employer in SoCal who had a lot more explaining to do than I did.
If your at all worried about identity theft, and you probably should be, make sure to run your annual free credit reports at the very least. Or take a look at the ID Theft Secrets Blog and follow the steps they outlined just a few days ago. You might just cut down on your junk mail some too if you opt out of all those pre-approved credit card applications.