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MASON CITY, Iowa – While having a credit card for a long time can improve your credit score, it can also cause you some serious problems if it goes unused.
Credit cards lying around can be a target for identity theft. It’s important that if you are no longer going to use a card that you cancel it.
Brenda Schmitt knows all to well what can happen if you don’t.
“A card that I had just left in a lock box and had forgotten about, planned on cancelling but just hadn’t gotten around to it, I got a call that somebody had used it in California for a motel.” says Schmitt, a Family Finance Specialist.
She was able to get the card cancelled before any more damage could be done, but she took it as a wake up call.
There are ways avoid that happening to you. Get a yearly credit report, this will allow you to see if anyone has been making inquiries to open a credit card in your name. Also, make sure you shred any credit card documentation before throwing it away, that includes credit card offers. Finally, don’t let credit cards go unused. If you no longer want to use them, cancel them with the company and cut up the card. It’s also a good idea to ask the credit card company to send you a letter confirming the card was cancelled.
“The down turn economy tends to bring a lot more identity theft out and they get more creative, their more tech savvy and they figure out ways to get a hold of your information,” adds Schmitt.