You think you are getting ahead. Tying up loose ends. You pay off your debt and cut up your cards. Your breath a big sigh of relief. Ahhh…. But what if in doing this good thing, you actually made yourself a bigger target for identity theft?
This happens more often than you would think. A recent example includes a man who paid off an old card, keeping his account open. Soon after, he had five charges for online shopping on a card he thought was paid off. Fortunately for him, he received a credit monitoring alert notifying him of delinquent bills. Without the credit monitoring, the charges could have continued to accumulate for months, even years, without him knowing.
An active credit card with no balance is perfect prey for ID thieves. Because you’ve paid off the account, you don’t miss statements if they don’t show up in the mail. Consequently, you don’t even notice if someone has changed the address on the account or requested a higher limit – classic ID thief moves. In this case, even a fraud alert would not have helped, because the account was not new and therefore charges on it would not have raised a red flag.
Because there are so many conflicting opinions out there, the decision of whether to keep accounts closed or open is entirely personal. But, if you do decide to keep accounts open – especially accounts that are paid off – it is critical that you keep a close eye on them.