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Confessions of a Chocoholic

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Blog topics:  Archive

By Chetrice Mosley Romero

Technology is like chocolate: People crave and indulge in the sweetness and richness of it all, and it comes in a variety of forms. As Forrest Gump famously noted, “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”

Not long ago, I received an abnormal notification of suspicious activity at a chocolate store I had never visited before, and I knew that this was one of those “surprises” (and not a good one) in the box of chocolates that Forrest Gump was referring to. Living by the rule of thumb – don’t trust, always verify – I confirmed my identity with two-factor authentication and contacted the credit card company immediately to decline the purchase that was made using my card. It really goes to show that there are tools out there to prevent credit card fraud and identity theft from happening to you, too. provides a good explanation of the distinction between falling victim to credit card fraud and identity theft. Identity theft can seep into personal areas within your lifestyle like banks, telephone companies, government records and insurance companies. Often times, these criminals start with a few minor transactions here and there – like the one I experienced – to suspect if the real credit card owner could possibly notice before successfully impersonating you.

What is valuable to you could very well be valuable to someone else because information is key. It is important to stay updated on accounts and companies that have your personal information more than once a year. As not only the cybersecurity program director at the Indiana Office of Technology, but also as a victim of identity theft, it is important to remember that this can happen to anyone.

AARP highlights that identity theft cases reached 1,387,615 in 2020, and the numbers only increase every year. Those who are complacent, believing they could never fall victim to identity theft, most likely already have and are the most vulnerable when it comes to this type of issue. The FTC shares helpful tips on being proactive with sharing personal information, including:

  • Only share account numbers on the phone with reputable companies and if you’re unfamiliar with them, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.
  • Carrying only necessary cards can minimize your losses if your wallet or purse is stolen.
  • Always keep your eye on your card during transactions.
  • Never sign a blank receipt; Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
  • Save your receipts and compare it with what’s on your monthly statement.
  • Open your bills promptly and match them up with the purchases you’ve made.
  • Report questionable charges to the card issuer.
  • Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
  • Don’t write your account number on the outside of an envelope.

Although cybersecurity education is a part of my job description, I am passionate about it as well. I have witnessed people lose their businesses and their livelihood firsthand because of identity theft, and I have been a victim myself. Additionally, as a chocoholic, I can ensure you that just like chocolate, simple unique passwords and just a few seconds of two-factor authentication can ensure a sweet impact on your life.