Today at the Landings: 73 °F

Tips to Help Protect Yourself Against Credit Card Fraud 

By Lynn Lewis - lynnl@landings.org 
Communications Manager 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit card fraud is on the rise in the United States. Statistics show that whether you live in a large city or a quaint town, you are at risk of this crime happening to you at least once in your lifetime. 

But the good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to being a victim and sit back and do nothing. Although you can’t always prevent this crime from happening, there are things you can do to make it more difficult for thieves to get your credit cards and account numbers. 

The Federal Trade Commission recommends incorporating these practices into your daily routine to help keep your cards and account information safe. 

  • Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and their phone numbers to report fraud for each company in a secure place.
  • Don’t lend your card to anyone, and don’t leave your cards, receipts, or statements around your home or office. When you no longer need them, immediately shred them.
  • Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know is reputable. If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews and complaints.
  • Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. And carry only the card you need for that outing.
  • During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.
  • Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
  • Save your receipts to compare with your statement.
  • Open your bills promptly or check them online often to reconcile them with the purchases you’ve made.
  • Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.
  • Notify your card issuer if your address changes or you will be traveling.
  • Don’t write your account number on the outside of the envelope when remitting your bill by mail.
  • Check your credit report regularly to ensure cards have not been opened in your name.

Credit card fraud can happen in many ways, from the theft of the actual card, to a thief dumpster diving for card information, to computer hacking. 

If you are a victim of credit card fraud, call the card issuer as soon as you realize your card has been lost or stolen. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with this issue. The Federal Trade Commission maintains that once you report the loss or theft of your credit card, the law says you have no additional responsibility for the charges you did not make. In any case, your liability for each card lost or stolen is $50. If you suspect your card was used fraudulently, you may be asked to sign a statement under oath that you didn’t make the purchases in question. 

Read more about resolving consumer problems on the Federal Trade Commission’s website www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/resolving-consumer-problems