Preventing yourself from holiday fraud

Visa and MasterCards with microchips . (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(WTNH) — It’s old-fashioned identity theft, with a twist. Thieves are not only stealing personal information, but stealing credit cards right out of the mail. Chief Michael Spera says it’s happened in Old Saybrook.

“We had one instance where someone was actually filling out a credit card application, had it sent to that person’s home and when they weren’t there, stole the mail, then got the credit card, and used that to purchase goods,” said Spera.

Chief Spera says the thieves use the credit cards out of state and max them out immediately.

News 8 Legal Expert Tara Knight says identity theft runs rampant, and it’s incredibly painful to try and repair your credit once it has been stolen or damaged, but you should not be out the money.

“The bottom line is once you discover it and notify your credit card company or your bank, you’re not responsible under the law for the charges because people are breaking into mailboxes and it is so easy right now to fill out an application and get the credit card or bank card sent to a different address,” said Knight.

Chief Spera says as soon as you find out about the fraud, call your police department, file the report, get the investigation started ASAP, because every day that goes by, the trail gets colder. The chief says especially this time of year be extremely careful with your personal information.

“We are here on Cyber Monday so you have to be very careful about how you’re using your credit card and that information and who has it. The consumers can very easily see online how easy it is to fill it out a credit card application,” said Spera.

If you are a victim of a data breach like the ones at major department stores, take them up on the credit monitoring. That is how you will know if thieves steal your identity before it is too late.

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