Think about how careful you are with your wallet. Treat your bank account the same way. Keep the account number to yourself, handle checks with care and keep a close eye on all transactions.
Beware of phishing - emails asking for personal/financial information. These emails may appear to come from banks, credit cards, cell phone companies or internet auction sites. They are ALL SCAMS. No legitimate company asks you for personal financial information by email. Or by telephone. Don't give out your information, period.
ID theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States today. It happens when somebody uses your name, address, Social Security number and/or driver's license number to take out a loan or credit card.
If you are a victim of ID theft:
Recovering from ID theft can be very difficult. ID theft is a crime that should be reported to the police. If you are a victim, an ID theft victim's kit is available on the Attorney General's main website.
Ideally, you would not be a victim of ID theft in the first place. Prevention is the key. NEVER let anyone else use your credit card. Do not give out your credit card number, bank account number, Social Security number, or driver's license number without very good reason.
Many scams or questionable offers involve recurring charges and/or subscriptions. A common example would be an offer of "All your favorite magazines for just $4.95 per month - cancel anytime!" Too often, the offer includes the "convenience" of an automatic bank account draft.
When you go out to a restaurant and the waiter delivers the bill, do you hand him your wallet and tell him to take out what you owe? Of course not. But when you authorize a draft from your bank account, it's just about the same thing.
Some people use automatic drafts for mortgage or major payments. If you are dealing with a company in which you have great confidence, such as a bank or well known regulated financial institution, that's fine. But don't set up automatic drafts with companies you never heard of! Don't set up drafts for impulse buys or minor purchases. In the event of a dispute, they will keep right on drawing money while you argue about it.
Remember that with many financial arrangements, such as ongoing subscriptions, automatic drafts and credit cards, are contracts. You are subject to whatever terms you agree to by signing papers. No matter how unfair the terms may seem at a later time, you will have a hard time getting out of the agreement if you have signed it. Read carefully and think it over. Do you really need to enter that contract?