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Prevent Credit Card Fraud - Avoid Identity Theft, Monitor Your Credit
Credit Card Fraud Happens All Too Frequently
Last Updated: May 8, 2012
According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, U.S. Department of Justice report dated February of 2012, 10% of all Americans fell victim to some type of credit card fraud in 2011. The average amount reported on credit card fraud was $399 with a total worldwide amount of $5.55 Billion. Using counterfiet credit cards was the number one type of credit card fraud at 37% followed by lost or stolen credit cards at 23%. The state of Nevada had the highest incident of credit card fraud followed closely by Colorado and Maryland.
A typical victim spends 44 hours recovering from credit card fraud/identity theft and an averge of $500 repairing the damage to their credit reports. I urge you to pull your credit report, if you haven't done so in the last 6 months, to check for any fraudulent information. In the meantime, we have some useful information for you on how to avoid credit card fraud and what to do if you are a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft.
Ways to Avoid Credit Card Fraud
With the high tech world we live in, your credit card information is always at risk for theft. Check out the following ways to keep it safe:
- Keep Your Credit Cards Safe. This may seem a bit obvious but it is the number one way people can steal your identity. Keep your credit cards in a purse or wallet close to your body where it can't be easily snatched away. If you are planning to shop in a high traffic area or maybe out of town, only carry one or two of the credit or debit cards you'll be using - leave the others at home.
- Shred Anything With Your Credit Card Number on It. Don't just toss your credit card billing statements in the trash - shred them first before throwing them away. Shred anything that has your credit card number on it before tossing it in the garbage.
- Don't Sign Blank Credit Card Receipts. Always verify the amount on your credit card receipt before signing it. If there are any lines that are blank, write "$0" on them or draw a line through it. That way, no one can go back later and fill in an amount to charge to your account.
- Avoid Giving Out Your Credit Card Information. Only give out your credit card number on calls you initiate to customer service using the number on the back of your credit card. Don't return calls to a phone number left on your answering machine and don't give your credit card number to anyone who calls you requesting the number. Credit card thieves have been known to pose as credit card issuers and other businesses to trick you into giving out your credit card number.
- Be Safe With Your Credit Card Online. Never click on email links from anyone pretending to be your bank, credit card company, or other business who uses your personal information, even if the email looks legitimate. These links are often phishing scams and the scammers want to trick you into entering your login information on their fake website. And, before making any purchases off of a website, make sure the site is secure. There will be a lock in the lower right corner of your browser or you can look for a "https" at the beginning of the URL.
- Report Lost or Stolen Credit Cards Immediately. The sooner you report a missing credit card the less likely it is that you'll have to pay for any fraudulent charges made on your credit card.
- Review Your Billing Statements Each Month. Again, that is something that should be done without saying. If you notice any unauthorized charges on your statement, no matter how small, immediately report them to your credit card issuer. You may have to close your account to avoid any further fraudulent charges.
What To Do If You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud
Prevention is the best course of action and we have some companies we recommend to help you monitor your credit and fight identity theft. But, if you are a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft we have some tips for you to do immediately:
- Contact the Credit Bureaus. Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports by calling any one of the credit bureaus. This alert can stop a thief from opening additional accounts in your name.
- File a Police Report. File a report with your local police station and keep a copy of the report if you have to deal with any creditors.
- Contact the Card Issuer. Immediately contact the issuer of the credit card that was lost or stolen. Follow up this call with a letter so you have the report documented.
- File a Complaint with the FTC. The FTC handles complaints from victims of identity theft, provides information to those victims, and refers complaints to major credit reporting and law enforcement agencies. The FTC can also refer your complaint to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.
Also, our website has numerous articles on identity theft and credit card fraud such as:
- How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
- Child Identity Theft - One of the Fastest Growing Forms of Fraud
- Picking Strong Passwords to Protect Against Identity Theft
- Protect Your Privacy
- Credit Card Safety While on Vacation
- Are Swipeless Credit Cards Safe?
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