Avoiding credit and charge card fraud could not only save you a lot of money but also a lot of frustration and headaches too. These crimes cost cardholders and major credit card companies hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
While theft is the most obvious form of fraud, there are other ways it can occur. As an example, someone obtains your card number and uses it to buy something on the Internet without your knowledge.
Avoiding credit and charge card fraud is not always possible, but there are a few steps you can take to make it more difficult for a thief to capture your card or card numbers.
Steps For Preventing Credit Card Fraud
What You Should Do:
• Sign your cards as soon as they arrive.
• Carry your cards separately from your wallet, in a zippered compartment, a business card holder, or another small pouch.
• Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place.
• Keep an eye on your card during the transaction, and get it back as quickly as possible.
• Void incorrect receipts.
• Destroy any carbons.
• Save receipts to compare with billing statements.
• Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly, just as you would your checking account.
• Report any questionable charges promptly and in writing to the card issuer.
• Notify credit card companies in advance of a change in address.
What You Should NOT Do:
• Lend your card(s) to anyone.
• Leave cards or receipts lying around.
• Sign a blank receipt. When you sign a receipt, draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
• Write your account number on a postcard or the outside of an envelope.
• Give out your account number over the phone unless you’re making the call to a company you know is reputable. If you have questions about a company, check it out with your local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau.
Reporting Losses and Fraud
If you lose your credit or charge cards or if you realize they’ve been lost or stolen, immediately call the issuer or credit card company. Most major credit card 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. In any event, your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card.
The FTC also works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them.
To file a complaint or for more free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or 1-866-653-4261.
Follow these tips and it may help you in avoiding credit and charge card fraud.