Police officers have also told me that credit card theft is common at restaurants: Wait staff either copy the information by hand or use a machine that resembles the one used to swipe a credit card to steal credit card data, then they sell the information. According to the privacy rights clearinghouse, nine million people a year report identity theft.
While it's impossible to prevent identity theft, you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim. I found many web sites with info about preventing identity theft. I started by reviewing what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has to say. Below are a few tips:
- Carry fewer credit cards.
- Give out your social security number only when necessary.
- Don't give out your credit card number or social security number unless you're certain the business is reputable. A company called On Guard Online offers tips on being a savvy Internet consumer.
- Always take your credit card receipt with you after a purchase.
- Don't choose the same passwords or ones that are easy to figure out for banking and credit accounts.
- Make sure you store bank and insurance information securely at work or home.
- Shred mail and documents with credit card information, charge receipts and credit offers.