How to protect yourself from identity theft, credit card fraud

AP Photo/Richard Drew

A Honolulu police officer charged with six felony counts will make his first court appearance on Thursday.

Khanh Le, 51, was arrested Friday, March 10, at Navy Exchange Pearl Harbor.

Investigators say he tried to steal hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise and make purchases with a fraudulent credit card.

We learned he was able to get a credit card under someone else’s name, even though the victim had moved out of Le’s current residence more than a decade ago.

The incident spotlights just how easily one can fall victim to credit card theft. So what can be done to prevent this from happening?

Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection, says it’s important to be vigilant when checking your statements.

He says it’s easy enough to get a credit card under someone else’s name if you’re able to get their mail, especially when credit card companies send pre-approved or pre-screened applications.

In many cases, Levins warns, the thief does not have to provide as much personal information, or can get some of that personal information through social media.

“A lot of people put their birthdays on Facebook. That’s an identifier. You have your address on Facebook or somewhere else on the Internet that’s easily identifiable,” Levins told KHON2. “The more of these pre-screened offers are sent to your home, the more opportunities someone has to intercept them and do bad things with it.”

While you probably don’t have to pay for the charges from a fraudulent credit card, getting victimized by identity theft can hurt your credit rating.

Levins says you should always check your credit card statements and your credit record regularly. By law, you are allowed to get a free report at least once a year.

You can also stop credit card companies from sending you applications by calling 1-888-567-8688 or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.

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