Here come some shocking statistics:Nov 21, 2005
Identity theft cases here likely to rise
Credit bureau: 'One or two' reports so far.
Many not reported due to lack of awareness
By Alfred Siew
WHEN insurance agent Kelvin Khoo, 33, checked his credit card bills recently, he was surprised to find several charges incurred in Turkish lira.
He had never been to Turkey, and certainly never bought anything there. But three of his credit cards - which he had used to buy tech gadgets over the Internet - showed the same suspicious charges from a Turkish company.
A call to the banks confirmed his fears: he had been hit by identity theft. Someone, he suspects, had stolen his card details online and signed up for insurance policies in his name.
'I told the banks I can show my passport to prove I've never been to Turkey,' he told The Straits Times. 'And I work in an insurance company, so why would I buy policies from overseas?'
With a clear-cut case, he got the charges cleared. Other victims, part of a worrying trend of identity fraud, may have to prove they are indeed hit by a scam.
Thieves can now use a copy of a victim's identity card to sign up for a credit card, for example. They have also been known to buy credit card numbers from dishonest storekeepers, who keep the receipts bearing customers' card details.
A recent report in Newsweek magazine said 50 million Americans have recently had their personal data exposed, and a quarter of Britons - around 15 million people - know someone whose identity has been stolen.
A couple of ideas occurred to me a long time ago but I never got around to executing them. I guess I really should - and so should you.
1. Reduce your number of credit cards. That makes it easier to monitor your usage and detect any suspicious activity. You also get less of a headache if you ever lose your wallet or purse.
2. Use one card and one card only for Internet purchases and payments. Furthermore call your bank and ask for a reduced limit on that card to no more than what you expect to need. For example, ask for a cap of $2,000 if you don't expect to ever spend more than that over the Internet in one month. That way, the amount of money a fraudster can ever run up on your card is also limited.
Incidentally, platinum just isn't what platinum used to be. Wasn't there a time when you needed to earn something like $200,000 a year to qualify? But recently I picked up a DBS brochure that stated the qualifying annual income for a DBS platinum card is $50,000. That's four times less exclusive than it used to be.