Because good credit is a commodity in and of itself, identity theft is most often conducted for the purpose of using the identifying information in order to access a person’s credit and make purchases. Since e-commerce has become one of the main methods of payment in the new millennium, most identity thieves have targeted individuals who make transactions over the Internet. Today’s identity protection services are actively implemented by both credit card companies and vendor websites in order to protect the private information of their clients and users.
Credit card companies implement a comprehensive range of identity protection services in an endeavor to prevent every potential security breach of a client’s credit information. At the basic level, most credit card companies have a policy of not referencing a cardholder’s entire credit card number in any correspondence with him or her. This measure protects the customer’s credit information in the event that his or her mail, voice mail, or email is accessed by someone else. As well, credit card companies require a password or security number to be supplied by cardholders whenever they call concerning their credit account. This ensures that no information is given to callers who may be attempting to impersonate the cardholder in order to steal his or her identity and credit information.
When a credit card company is monitoring its transactions, it will most often look for any sudden transactions outside of the cardholder’s ordinary spending patterns, such as a series of expensive purchases within a short period of time or outside of the cardholder’s state or country. In this instance, a representative from the credit card company will usually contact the cardholder as part of their identity protection services in order to confirm whether or not the transactions are fraudulent or not. In the event that they are fraudulent, the credit card company will put a “lock down” on the account, protecting the cardholder from further unauthorized transactions. Credit card companies and banks may also lock down a cardholder’s account as part of their identity protection services if activity reports indicate that several failed attempts have been made at entering the cardholder's security code, whether at an ATM or online. This protects the cardholder in the event that someone is attempting to systematically hack his or her account through several attempts with different pass codes.
Most reputable websites that handle e-commerce use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology as one of their identity protection services to ensure that a user’s payment information is not stolen via computer network. Companies such as VeriSign® offer this protection service for a fee to websites with online shopping. In turn, customers who see the VeriSign® logo on those websites feel secure in trusting it with their credit card number and other identifying information.