Well, not exactly my sponsor. More like me in the hat I wear for work. I'm sure you all know this, but a reminder now and then can't hurt.
Most people never look at their credit card statements or bank statements. Only 11% of people with checking accounts balance their checkbooks and of those only 5% balance them more than once a year. Between credit card use, online banking, ATM's and overdraft protection people depend on their financial institution to keep track of how much money they actually have.
If you are one of the people who never check their statements then please make an effort to change your habits. As a credit union employee I check my account every day to see what has cleared through checking and what charges have hit my credit card. Today I found three fraudulent charges, all for Lowe's in California, that totaled well over $2000. I immediately went downstairs to have our cards blocked and learned there are lots more charges that have been OK's but won't post to the account until tomorrow. The total amount of the fraud so far is over $4200 - all charges from California, We live over 1500 miles from California and haven't been there in over 10 years.
Here's the really scary part. Both of us still have our credit cards in our possession. As I have taught many fraud classes to our new employees I'm very careful with our information. All credit card slips are shredded. We never leave our cards in a locked car. We have new cards delivered to the credit union instead of our mail box. We never put credit card information online unless it's a secure site and we have initiated the transaction. Nevertheless, these charges were made with a card, so someone has obtained all our card information, including the encoded information in the magnetic strip, and has produced a fraudulent card. Somewhere someone took our card out of our sight - at a restaurant or a store - long enough to run it through a card skimmer and store our information. They then downloaded this information to a computer and sold it to a professional thief who pays well for information used to make fraudulent cards. They had a field day with our card for two or three days until I caught them. Imagine how much fun they could have had if I didn't keep close track of our account?
So please - be very careful with your personal information. Keep your eyes on your credit cards. Shred all receipts and other items with personal information. Regularly go over your financial statements. Report any questionable entries immediately. Never leave your purse or wallet in a locked car on an unlocked drawer somewhere at work. Keep your social security card in a locked box at home or a safe deposit box. Never give out your social security number to anyone who doesn't have a good reason to ask for it.
OK - taking off my Credit Union Training Manager hat and stepping off my soapbox - back to our regularly scheduled program.
(It's a good thing I'm not shopping for fabric any more - not having a credit card for 10 days or so would have put a serious cramp in my shopping in the past LOL!)