Credit Card Fraud
Credit Card Fraud
According to the FTC, the cost of credit card fraud may be as high as $5.8 billion a year. Consumers pay for the fraud through higher finance charges, annual fees and increased costs for law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. To protect yourself against credit card fraud, consider the following:
Protect your bills and credit cards
Unscrupulous scam artists often raid mailboxes or use “phishing” scams online to gather credit card account numbers and other financial information. If your cards or bills are late, contact your credit card company. Sign all credit cards as soon as they arrive. Keep a record of your credit card numbers in a secure place and include in that record the expiration date, phone number and address of the card issuer. Check your cards to ensure none are missing. Always get your credit card back promptly from salesclerks.
Guard your credit card number
Do not give your credit card number out over the phone or online unless you initiated the contact or you have verified the website you are on belongs to the company with which you believe you are dealing. Memorize your PIN number and do not keep it with your credit card.
Safety tips when using your credit card
Destroy voided receipts immediately. Check your bill against receipts that have been kept in a secure place. If you are not using a credit card, destroy it immediately. When on a trip, carry the name of the issuer, account number and the toll-free number of the issuer in a secure place. Report stolen and lost cards immediately. Note the date, time and person to whom you reported that your card was lost or stolen.
Reporting losses and fraud
If you lose your credit cards or if you realize they've been stolen, immediately call the issuer(s). Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies. By law, once you report the loss or theft, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. If you suspect fraud, you may be asked to sign a statement under oath that you did not make the purchase(s) in question.
Shopping on the Internet
The Internet or other "online" services are fast becoming the most popular marketplaces of goods and services. They offer a whole new world of shopping opportunities. While purchasing these items may seem easy and convenient, consumers should be just as cautious in cyberspace as they are with any "offline," personal, or telephone credit card purchase. An impressive-looking Internet site does not necessarily mean the company is legitimate. Before you decide to purchase anything, you might want to consider the following:
Consider shopping only with companies you already know
Use the same common sense you would use when purchasing items in a store, by mail, or over the telephone. Before you order something from a new company, ask that printed information, such as a brochure or catalog be mailed to you. Be sure to ask about the company's refund and exchange policy before you buy anything.
Protect your personal financial information
Begin with your Internet connection. Use a secure browser, one that can encrypt or scramble credit numbers or other personal data. Protect your checking account number, credit card numbers and all personal financial information at all times. If you are concerned about the security of this information, consider using the company's 800-number or using a check or money order to pay for your purchase. Always print out a copy of your order and confirmation number for your records.
Con artists are adapting to this new technology just as quickly as they have to every other. Be wary of requests for information such as your Social Security number to complete transactions. Be leery if someone asks you to reveal your passwords or any information used to install your online service. Make sure you are comfortable with a company before doing business with it.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
This old adage is just as true with this technology as it has been with any other. As the popularity of the Internet increases, so too will the deceptive advertising, travel scams and bogus contests that have been around for years. Remember, a con artist's Internet web site can look just as professional as a legitimate company. Always know who you are dealing with.