Good suggestions to protect your personal identity

  • Thread starter rhody
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  • #1
rhody
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After reading an e-mail about a lawyer's identity being stolen and what he did to fight back I thought it was good enough to pass on.

See what you think..
Not A Joke!!
Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it
someday. Maybe we should all take some of his advice! A corporate attorney
sent the following out to the employees in his company:

1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards . Instead, put ' PHOTO ID
REQUIRED .'

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT
put the complete account number on the 'For' line. Instead, just put the
last four numbers . The credit card company knows the rest of the number,
and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the
check processing channels won't have access to it.

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you
have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a
PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks.
(DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed,
anyone can get it.

4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine . Do both
sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in
your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and
cancel.. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or
abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us
in stealinga Name, address, Social Security number, credit cards...

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first hand knowledge because my wallet
was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive
monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit
line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to
change my driving record information online, and more.
But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this
happens to you or someone you know:

5. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But
the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you
know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

6.. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit
cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were
diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever
is one).

But here's what is perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to
do this.)
7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place
a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line
number.. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that
called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in
my name...

The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information
was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new
credit...

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft,
all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks
initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before
placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the
thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems
to have stopped them dead in their tracks..

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if
it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

3.) Trans Union: 1-800-680 7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything.

If you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help
someone that you care about.

Rhody...
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
berkeman
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Looks like good info. Thanks rhody.
 
  • #3
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Why do credit cards still exist? and most importantly, why do some companies only accept them?

Credit cards are the least safe way to trade ever, if they came on the market today, they would be banned for a ridiculously high risk of fraud. A mate of mine once ordered a thing for free, how? He typed the number and details of the example image credit card on the site.

You can probably Google an image of a credit card and use that to fraud in a lot of instances.

Luckily I don't live in the US, credit cards are hardly needed in the Netherlands, we use some-thing that's a thousand times more awesome, it's called a bank pas, it has a code which can take 1 000 different combinations and you get three tries before it blocks, best of all, the code isn't on the pas, neither are your details, the details themselves are stored magnetically on the pass, the code isn't, the details and the code you enter are sent to the database of the bank which checks them with each other there. Amazing invention, and a lot more secure too. To shop on line, we use a thing that's even more awesome, it's called bank transfer.

Seriously, credit cards should be banned, I will never take one of those, as soon as you have one you've opened yourself to fraud, it's easy to train your memory to the point that visiting a random store leaves you with 7 different names to make out the stuff to you buy on Amazon.
 
  • #4
rhody
Gold Member
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http://thefinancebuff.com/2009/01/one-time-credit-card-numbers-for-more-security.html" [Broken]

Using the method described below pretty much ensures that your account will never be compromised. A one time transaction number, configurable by date and charge limit, tied to the vendor providing the product/service, after that the number is charged it is useless if compromised.

Sounds pretty safe to me. I don't have any of the card(s) listed below, but know of a few folks who have been using them this way flawlessly for years. Something to consider.
You need a card by Citibank, Bank of America, or Discover. These banks offer software that generates a one-time card number, officially known as a “controlled payment number.” You can configure the expiration date and the maximum amount allowed for the one-time card. Once used, the card is tied to the merchant where it was used. If you gave the card number to XYZ.com online or your dentist’s office over the phone, only XYZ.com or your dentist’s office can use it. If you put the maximum at $50, they can only charge up to $50. If the card number is stolen, the thief can’t use it elsewhere. They don’t have your real card number.

The banks call this software by different names. Citibank calls it Virtual Account Number. Bank of America calls it ShopSafe. Discover calls it Secure Online Account Number. Under the hood, they are pretty much the same thing. The software is made by the same company: Orbiscom in Dublin, Ireland. Orbiscom is recently acquired by MasterCard for $100 million.

I have used the Orbiscom software for one-time credit card numbers for a few years. It works well. I use it for online, mail, and phone orders. These days you never know who’s going to lose your data once you give your credit card number out. With the one-time card numbers, you gain a little bit peace of mind.
Rhody...
 
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  • #5
rhody
Gold Member
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Looks like good info. Thanks rhody.
berkeman,

Just curious, did you run it through snopes.com, or verify the phone numbers ?

I ran the phone numbers on a free reverse phone search and three out of the four came up a match, if you actually do need to use them, search on their names just to be sure.

Rhody... :devil:
 
  • #7
berkeman
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berkeman,

Just curious, did you run it through snopes.com, or verify the phone numbers ?

I ran the phone numbers on a free reverse phone search and three out of the four came up a match, if you actually do need to use them, search on their names just to be sure.

Rhody... :devil:
The phone numbers match at Snopes? Yikes. The rest of the info seemed valid, but I did not check the phone numbers. Thanks for doing that Rhody.
 
  • #8
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Don't use your real name on forums
:rofl:

Voice of experience, Greg (if that's really your name)?
 
  • #9
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Some are useless, or just plain bad advice, and some are good.

1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards . Instead, put ' PHOTO ID
REQUIRED .'
This is pretty much useless. Most merchants don't check anyways. I used to manage a gas station, and anyone who came in with "Photo ID" or similar written on their card told me that I was one of very few who actually asked for their ID. In addition, it's easy enough to rub the writing off the back of the card, and re-sign it, or just use the card online. Better advice is to keep a record of what you've purchased on your card, and reconcile it with your bill as soon as it comes, reporting any fraudulent transactions to your credit card company immediately. They carry insurance, so they don't mind reversing fraudulent transactions.

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT
put the complete account number on the 'For' line. Instead, just put the
last four numbers . The credit card company knows the rest of the number,
and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the
check processing channels won't have access to it.
If you're reading this, you have internet. Pay your bills through your online banking.

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you
have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a
PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks.
(DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed,
anyone can get it.
People still use checks? I can't even remember the last time I wrote a check. Half the time banks don't even confirm that the check is made out to whoever's trying to cash it. Someone stole one of my wife's maternity leave checks and managed to cash it. The bank, apparently, never asked a single question until after we reported the check missing. I've cashed checks made out to my brother and sister before (with their permission), but the bank never asked me about it (my sister's even had a different last name). Point is, checks are insecure. Better advice than above is to simply not use them.

The rest of it seems to be reasonable.
 
  • #10
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Why do credit cards still exist? and most importantly, why do some companies only accept them?
I heard there is some restaurant in New York that will not except currency except for tips. Only credit cards are allowed to pay the bill.
Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125260838282300453.html

Last I saw, my U.S. paper currency, for transactions in the U.S. says "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE"

Anyway, not to get off subject. Identity theft through standard currency ALONE is impossible. Identity theft through credit cards is a viable given possibility.
 
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  • #11
russ_watters
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Why do credit cards still exist? and most importantly, why do some companies only accept them?

Credit cards are the least safe way to trade ever, if they came on the market today, they would be banned for a ridiculously high risk of fraud. A mate of mine once ordered a thing for free, how? He typed the number and details of the example image credit card on the site.

You can probably Google an image of a credit card and use that to fraud in a lot of instances.

Luckily I don't live in the US, credit cards are hardly needed in the Netherlands, we use some-thing that's a thousand times more awesome, it's called a bank pas, it has a code which can take 1 000 different combinations and you get three tries before it blocks, best of all, the code isn't on the pas, neither are your details, the details themselves are stored magnetically on the pass, the code isn't, the details and the code you enter are sent to the database of the bank which checks them with each other there. Amazing invention, and a lot more secure too. To shop on line, we use a thing that's even more awesome, it's called bank transfer.

Seriously, credit cards should be banned, I will never take one of those, as soon as you have one you've opened yourself to fraud, it's easy to train your memory to the point that visiting a random store leaves you with 7 different names to make out the stuff to you buy on Amazon.
What would you recommend be used in their place, for the main purpose of credit cards, which is credit?

And how is a credit card less safe than a bank transfer? A bank transfer is also just a string of numbers, but unlike a credit card there is no buffer between the seller and your money: the instant the transfer goes through, the money is gone. A credit card provides you with a buffer and time to deal with a problem.

And this "bank pas" just sounds like a credit card without the numbers printed on the card. It can only be used in person.
 
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  • #12
89
1
I heard there is some restaurant in New York that will not except currency except for tips. Only credit cards are allowed to pay the bill.
Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125260838282300453.html

Last I saw, my U.S. paper currency, for transactions in the U.S. says "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE"

Anyway, not to get off subject. Identity theft through standard currency ALONE is impossible. Identity theft through credit cards is a viable given possibility.
Yeah, I think they have to accept it, it's legal currency.

There was some debate here when the euro first came, starting from 2000, the euro became legal currency together with the guilder, and companies had to accept both, in 2002, only the euro was legal currency.

Some companies refused to accept euros early on, which led to some lawsuits, because it's state endorsed legal currency, they have no choice.

What would you recommend be used in their place, for the main purpose of credit cards, which credit?

And how is a credit card less safe than a bank transfer? A bank transfer is also just a string of numbers, but unlike a credit card there is no buffer between the seller and your money: the instant the transfer goes through, the money is gone. A credit card provides you with a buffer and time to deal with a problem.

And this "bank pas" just sounds like a credit card without the numbers printed on the card. It can only be used in person.
You guys don't have bank passes?

It's basically tied to your bank account, we have on every street an awesome machine in the wall, you put your pass in it, it greets you with 'Hello Mr. .... please input your Personal identification number', you've got three attempts in a month, third wrong, and your card is blocked. Once you've put it in you can ask for money (I think it should be the reverse, but whatever).

Also, about any shop here allows to 'pay by pin', you simply insert your pas at the cassier there, input that same number, and you've paid for what you bought in 2 seconds of time, no business with change or what-not, a lot of people here don't even carry cash because of the ubiquity of the support for this.

Also, we have what's called the 'chip wallet', it's a no-contact chip on most bank passes here, you can put electronic currency on it by the aforementioned machine, you then put it on a metal plate and some one can extract it from it. It goes even faster to pay by this, takes less than a second, don't even have to take it out of your wallet. Downside is that it becomes 'money' once it's on it, and if people steal your pass they don't need your code to access whatever's on the chip.

Surely you have some-thing similar?

Anyway, credit cards here are viewed as a dangerous thing, a lot of people don't take them for fraud alone, they aren't needed to operate in the EU, if it wasn't for international commerce, they would probably be illegal, they're just too sensitive to fraud. A bank pas is directly connected to your bank account and transfers from there. It has a 4 digit code but it's not visible on it. Most banks also credit you, as in, they're willing to let you get about 500 EUR in the red.

Bank transfers are safer because you can't just instigate them by simply using information that can be looked up at google image search.

Also, our latest technological novelty to ensure and protect our decadent lifestyle of being willing to invent technology to safe us from menial tasks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OV-chipkaart
 
  • #13
russ_watters
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Regarding the OP itself:

1. All credit cards should have photos on them. I'd also agree with the suggestion that the number not be printed on cards that you carry with you.

2. Why would you write your credit card number on a check to your credit card company? :confused:

4. Sounded like a good ide at first, but then I realized I know exactly what is in my wallet (a drivers' license, a debit card and sometimes a credit card). If this guy needs a photocopy of everything, he's carrying too much crap in his wallet. And his methods are out of date: any bank or credit card company website will allow you to report a card stolen. You don't need the phone number (and don't have to wait on hold!).

In addition:
-I buy most things in person with a debit card for money management reasons. I only carry a credit card (sometimes) as a back-up. If I were more concerned about safety, I'd buy everything with a credit card and keep the debit card at home unless I needed cashe.

-Buy online with credit cards, not debit cards or direct bank transfers. They are safer because they add a buffer between the world and your money.
 
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  • #14
russ_watters
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You guys don't have bank passes?

It's basically tied to your bank account, we have on every street an awesome machine in the wall, you put your pass in it, it greets you with 'Hello Mr. .... please input your Personal identification number', you've got three attempts in a month, third wrong, and your card is blocked. Once you've put it in you can ask for money (I think it should be the reverse, but whatever).
That doesn't sound different from a debit/atm card. Since they have been combined, you can use it either in debit mode (where you need to enter the pin) or credit card mode (where you don't need to enter the pin). The two should probably be separated into different cards.

But you didn't answer my question: how can this replace or be safer than credit? These cards directly access your bank account so if someone steals one, they can quickly steal all the money in your bank account. A credit card, on the other hand, is not linked to your bank account and thus lowers your exposure to theft.
Bank transfers are safer because you can't just instigate them by simply using information that can be looked up at google image search.
Of course you can! A bank transfer uses the information found on every check you've ever written. Lose a check (or have the number stolen online) and whoever finds it can now directly access your bank account. I'd never use such a thing except for the most trusted transactions (paying regular bills) and would always do it via mail.
 
  • #15
Kaj said:
You guys don't have bank passes?
Like Russ notes it is similar to our "ATM/Debit" cards. They are attached to your checking account and make a transaction against your account when ever you use it. Ours do not always go through immediately, though it seems that they are speeding the process up, and the "wallet chip" I have heard of similar things but they are not yet common here.
These cards have the number on them though and with how forgetful people are if they cut your account every time you forgot your pin a lot of people here would get really mad.

About a year ago mine was canceled without my knowledge apparently due to some suspicious activity in regard to my card number. They could not fix it without my going to a bank, which sort of angered me since banks are not open during the time of day that I am up and working and such. And on top of that under no circumstances would they tell me anything about what happened with my card number. I had no idea who where or when regarding the people who had apparently attempted to fraudulently use my card number.
 
  • #16
rhody
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Sigh.....

and I thought this would be one of those simple bit of advice threads, that everyone who wished could use. I guess for some, nothing is that simple or straighforward.

Rhody... :cry:
 
  • #17
Dembadon
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Sigh.....

and I thought this would be one of those simple bit of advice threads, that everyone who wished could use. I guess for some, nothing is that simple or straighforward.

Rhody... :cry:
:confused:

I don't understand your dissatisfaction. From this thread, I've obtained some useful knowledge, enjoyed a few laughs, and acquired some new perspectives. Cheer up! :wink:
 
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  • #18
rhody
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:confused:

I don't understand your dissatisfaction. From this thread, I've obtained some useful knowledge, enjoyed a few laughs, and acquired some new perspectives. Cheer up! :wink:
Thanks Dembadon,

I appreciate the good words...

Rhody... :smile:
 
  • #19
89
1
That doesn't sound different from a debit/atm card. Since they have been combined, you can use it either in debit mode (where you need to enter the pin) or credit card mode (where you don't need to enter the pin). The two should probably be separated into different cards.

But you didn't answer my question: how can this replace or be safer than credit? These cards directly access your bank account so if someone steals one, they can quickly steal all the money in your bank account. A credit card, on the other hand, is not linked to your bank account and thus lowers your exposure to theft.
If someone steals one it's of no use to them. The code itself is the key to the gate.

Any way, empirically spoken, one reads all over the news from credit card fraud, and at no point do people read of fraud with bank passes, there's also no such thing as 'fraud' on them, there's such a thing as breaking the code. They also aren't per se tied to identities. The thing is that here, if some one has your code and uses it, the bank doesn't repay you for it, they correctly say 'you should not make your code easily guessable', you can tell people like your wife your code, but that's your own damn risk, and more power to Darwin if people get robbed by their own naïvety.

Of course you can! A bank transfer uses the information found on every check you've ever written. Lose a check (or have the number stolen online) and whoever finds it can now directly access your bank account. I'd never use such a thing except for the most trusted transactions (paying regular bills) and would always do it via mail.
I guess our bank transfers work differently.

http://www.abnamro.nl/en/images/Generiek/Afbeeldingen/Diversen/prive/edentifier1.jpg

You get one of these cool things if you sign up for an account here. It contains a hashing algorithm that takes three variables:

A: the data on your bank pas (these come with all accounts here)
B: your identification code
C: a code the bank gives you, either via an online form, or written on the form you fill in as you make a bank transfer

It then produces a number you either have to write down on-line, or on some paper form.

All those three variables are available to the bank also. C is available to strangers, to acquire A, they need to steal your pass, but then they still lack B. So, in order to crack this they need your bank pas and your identification code, even if they have your code they still need your pass.

Another thing is of course that the thing doesn't state whether or not you've inputted your identification code correctly, it doesn't know, it's not on the pass, it just creates a value from that hash like a stupid dumb machine.

If banktransfers work like that in the US, I'm not really sure if those cards are similar. I guess about 5% of this country has a credit card, and I've heard more cases of credit card fraud here than bankpas theft and ****, there's also no such thing as 'fraud' with them, there's only breaking the code, via social engineering if one has to.

Like Russ notes it is similar to our "ATM/Debit" cards. They are attached to your checking account and make a transaction against your account when ever you use it. Ours do not always go through immediately, though it seems that they are speeding the process up, and the "wallet chip" I have heard of similar things but they are not yet common here.
These cards have the number on them though and with how forgetful people are if they cut your account every time you forgot your pin a lot of people here would get really mad.
Well, that's the thing in which ours are fundamentally different, they don't have the number on them, or even in them. They have your account details on them on the magnetic strip, but not your identification number, that's just sent to the bank and verified there for a match. And that's the fundamental reason I don't find credit cards safe. (and about any person here, if people have a credit card, they keep it at home, it's easy to just look at it in a store and remember it)

It's not that hard to remember an 8 or 4 digit code by the way, you remember your phone number don't you? I have to give my phone number a lot less than my identification code, my identification code is etched in my memory, for one, I don't pay with cash at stores, I pay with this pass. Usually supermarkts here have about 8 lines where you can not pay with cash, and only 2 where you can, because paying with cash is just sloooow. It goes through a conveyor through a scanning gate, the price is automatically determined you put that thing on a plate, input that code, and you're done.

About a year ago mine was canceled without my knowledge apparently due to some suspicious activity in regard to my card number. They could not fix it without my going to a bank, which sort of angered me since banks are not open during the time of day that I am up and working and such. And on top of that under no circumstances would they tell me anything about what happened with my card number. I had no idea who where or when regarding the people who had apparently attempted to fraudulently use my card number.
Well, there is no suspicious activity here if you don't lend your pass out (for what reason would you?), people need that pass and your code. If they steal your pass you're glad that it gets locked for suspicious activity.

Reading this I do believe by the way that the systems in our two countries aren't comparable. 'Fraud' is not a term that applies here 'cracking' is.
 
  • #20
Borg
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It is also a good idea to check your three credit reports regularly. It may not have helped the person in the original post but, it can still be helpful. One of my coworkers recently had problems getting a loan because his credit report indicated that he had seven homes. Several belonged to his father and one to a guy on the other side of the country. Everyone had the same name and he had them all lumped on his account. This is the second time that they've mixed up the records like this.
 
  • #21
rhody
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One more thing, I have a friend who had his Credit Card number compromised, how you may ask ?

Airports, airport Kiosk's specifically. If you ever use your credit card and enter the number on those shiny silver keypads connected to the phones, the thieves stand at a safe distance with a mini-cam on high magnification and record your numbers as you punch them in, quite clever actually.

How to defeat them ? Simple, stand near the phone tucked under your ear and type with one hand and cover with the other. It is a PITA to do, but once you have had your card compromised it will seem like a small price to pay.

When me friend called and inquired about it, he was told that the thieves play back the video in slow motion. That's how they get the numbers.

That's my story and I am sticking to it.

Snopes... signing off...
 
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  • #22
Evo
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That doesn't sound different from a debit/atm card. Since they have been combined, you can use it either in debit mode (where you need to enter the pin) or credit card mode (where you don't need to enter the pin). The two should probably be separated into different cards.
Debit cards are much riskier than credit cards.

http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/109125/10-places-not-to-use-your-debit-card?mod=bb-checking_savings [Broken]
 
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  • #23
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Debit cards are much riskier than credit cards.

http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/109125/10-places-not-to-use-your-debit-card?mod=bb-checking_savings [Broken]
Your debit cards reading from this. Our system is unrelated to this, each of those items has no application here.

As I said, it works simple, you have that card which has on a magnetic strip or chip your details, and you have your code, you put that card in the reader and input your code, both get sent to the bank and are compared there, if they match you paid, else you didn't. You don't give any one your code.

Also, the card itself is basically just some plastic container for the account details, getting a new one after it's been stolen costs 5 EUR without any trouble, they just send it to you in a sealed envelope with the code included if you requaest a new one or if you don't trust your own home and the people in it you can pick it up yourself.

Also, I think I finally understand why Americans are so fond of that credit card, the rest of the systems there are even more sensitive to fraud.
 
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  • #24
CRGreathouse
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I heard there is some restaurant in New York that will not except currency except for tips. Only credit cards are allowed to pay the bill.
Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125260838282300453.html

Last I saw, my U.S. paper currency, for transactions in the U.S. says "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE"
They can reject or accept any kind of payment they want. If they want to accept only credit cards with numbers ending in "3", that's OK. If they want to accept pennies, dimes, and Susan B. Anthony dollars (but not dollar bills), that's also legal. If they choose to accept beaver pelts, that's OK.
 
  • #25
russ_watters
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Your debit cards reading from this. Our system is unrelated to this, each of those items has no application here.

As I said, it works simple, you have that card which has on a magnetic strip or chip your details, and you have your code, you put that card in the reader and input your code, both get sent to the bank and are compared there, if they match you paid, else you didn't. You don't give any one your code.
As I said, the only difference between that and our debit cards is that yours don't have the number printed on them. As I said, I agree that that is a good idea.

But again, you haven't responded at all to the issue of credit. Do people not use credit in your country?
The thing is that here, if some one has your code and uses it, the bank doesn't repay you for it, they correctly say 'you should not make your code easily guessable', you can tell people like your wife your code, but that's your own damn risk, and more power to Darwin if people get robbed by their own naïvety.
Yes, if someone gets ahold of your info and gets into your bank account, you probably can't get the money back. That's one way credit cards are superior.

It sounds like you are saying your device gives you a unique number for every online transaction. That's pretty secure and many credit card companies will provide such a thing, but it is a little cumbersome.
 

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