Subject: Re: Identity theft
Hi Lucy, and other Ziners,

I am sorry that you have been the victim of this fraud. It is an awful feeling.

Identity theft is actually slightly different - it is when someone impersonates you by using your details and establishes an identity claiming to be you - that fraud can wreck your credit rating and have many other ramifications. It can happen when you lose your passport for example.

I have had a credit card fraudulently used. It was many years ago and took some time to clear up even though it was the police who alerted me to the fraud. I found the bank not nearly as helpful as it could have been. It was not compromised by internet usage and the police could not explain how it came to be compromised other than perhaps there are sites which give out valid credit card numbers. The criminal came from the same city as me but I had never shopped at the butcher shop he worked in.

I carry three different credit cards as well as a direct debit card. All four cards are with different institutions. If I get turned down on one, I can bring out the other. The credit cards do allow cash advances just in case the debit card is the one that is not working. My husband has copies of these four cards.

When overseas we only carried two of the cards with us in our wallets in case we were pickpocketed. The others I think were with the children in their luggage or kept separately in some way; they were with us overseas.

We are members of Credit Card Secure Sentinel (actually I think they have changed their name) which will cancel cards (and mobile phones) for us with a single phone call. We haven't had to use their services but my parents did - it was effective and efficient.

I do use internet banking. I take some precautions and the institutions are obviously working on it too, with such things as a password of random clickable icons now to invoke the transfer of money and the 3 digits on the back of your credit card as a security code meaning you have to actually have the card in your hand to use it for internet transactions.

Interestingly I noticed in Europe the checking of my signature was at best cursory and often non-existent. When I asked, apparently most Europeans use PIN and not signature for verification.

Also, although my parents had cancelled their mastercard immediately when stolen, the thieves were able to use it for many months to pay tolls at autoroutes (Spain and perhaps France too). My parents were not liable but it does make one wonder about the verification of cards at these booths.

Regards, Anne Canberra, Australia