Credit Card Fraud

Things You Should Know About Credit Card Fraud

From thieves stealing your card information to scams that ask you to provide a credit card number to receive a free gift or low cost product, credit card fraud appears in many forms.

Falsified Credit Card Accounts

An identity thief can open an unauthorized credit card account using a pre-approved credit card application. Make sure that your mail is protected, either by a locking mail box or a post office box. Ask your credit card companies not to send any pre-approved applications for cards to your address.

If you have had a problem with unauthorized accounts being opened using your credit information, place a security alert on your Social Security number with each of the three credit card bureaus. Anyone applying for credit using your information will be required to verify their identity. This also means that you will need to verify your identity each time you open a new credit account. This process may be completed by providing additional information that an identity thief would not know. However, you may be required to fax notarized copies of your identification documents, such as your driver’s license, to the company for which you are completing the application.

Unauthorized Charges on a Credit Card

The most frequently perpetrated credit card fraud is unauthorized charges on an existing credit card account. Thieves obtain credit card numbers and information when they have access to the card. For example, a waiter or waitress may take an additional impression, or write down the numbers to a patron’s credit card and then later use the card to make an online purchase. Another way that a thief may access a credit card owner’s card information is by going through the card holder’s trash.

Additionally, computer hackers may place malware on computers that gleans credit card information from legitimate online transactions. There are many ways that a thief can get someone’s credit card number.

Protect Yourself Against Credit Card Fraud

There are a few ways to protect your credit cards against unauthorized use. First, always shred your credit card statements and any documents that contain your credit card information. Never throw the statements out with the trash, as a thief may go through your garbage. Make sure that the card does not leave your sight when you use it. If a waitperson, for example, fails to bring the card back promptly, ask them about it just to let them know you are paying attention.

If you suspect your computer is infected with any type of malware, do not make online purchases on the machine. Make sure that you are using a Secured Socket Layer (SSL) when transacting online. The SSL site is designated with a locked padlock within the browser and the URL will begin with https://.

Do not give your credit card number out over the phone to companies that you are not sure are reputable. If a company is offering a free product, but still requests your credit card number, you may be setting yourself up for unauthorized charges.

Finally, check each charge entry on your monthly credit card statement. Save your receipts and reconcile your credit card statements with the receipts just as you would balance your checking account each month.

If you are the victim of unauthorized charges on your credit card account, report the charge immediately to the credit card company. In many cases, such as those with Visa, these charges will be reversed. Provide the credit card company with any additional documentation they request. In addition, close the account. In most cases, the credit card company will consider the card stolen and issue another card with a new number. If you are moving, notify the credit card company in advance of your move.

Though you may not be able to prevent thieves from ever stealing your credit card information, if you remain vigilant and stay keep abreast of each charge that should and should not be on the card, you will be able to protect yourself from financial devastation due to credit card fraud.

Regularly review your credit report to make sure that no additional accounts have been opened using your name and personal information. Staying informed with regard to all of your open accounts will ensure that you are not a credit card fraud victim. If you are victimized, the damage will be minimal.