Credit cards: A sealed deal

Did you know that identity theft claims a new victim somewhere in the world every two seconds?

Sushmita Choudhury        Print Edition: February, 2010

Did you know that identity theft claims a new victim somewhere in the world every two seconds? More alarmingly, mail theft continues to be a preferred route for fraudsters. In the US, one in three cases of ID theft occurs through the mail. The incidence of theft of credit cards from the postal system soared by 51 per cent in the UK last year. Though there are no official statistics for India, it is on the epidemic list.

From bin raiding—trawling the trash for sensitive financial data—to more elaborate scams in cahoots with courier companies, we learn of a new spin on mail theft every year. Despite the ensuing paranoia, people tend to forget that a tampered envelope remains the most obvious red flag. If you receive a credit card in a torn or an open envelope, you must immediately inform your bank and ask for a replacement. This is crucial even if the bank assures you that all is well with the card, which, incidentally, is contrary to its own safety guidelines.

If someone does manage to take a peek at your credit card, particularly if it is newly issued, he has all the details required to go on an online shopping spree. This is because you've not had a chance to PIN-protect this card with 3D Secure processes like Verified by Visa. Just because the bank detects no fraudulent transactions at the time of reporting a tampered envelope does not mean that your card is safe. After all, a fraudster is not honour-bound to run-up charges within any time frame.

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