Credit Card Fraud

How do people obtain your credit card information to make purchases that you might have to pay for? Some of the common ways include:

Paying for dinner at a restaurant. Your waitress or waiter takes your credit card with the check for your dinner, brings it to the register and processes the transaction and returns your card with a receipt to be signed. What you didn’t notice when the card was given back to you was it wasn’t even your credit card! Some waiters and waitresses might give you a fake credit card in return and keep your credit card to go shopping with, later. Or perhaps the credit card was returned to you, but only after the waiter or waitress copied down the details and placed the information in their back pocket for later. With that information, he or she can make purchases online or by phone, and not need to sign any receipts.

Some thieves hide inside contests, because everyone wants to win things for free! You’ll receive a mailing that says you’ve won a free vacation or item that requires you join a travel club or pay for shipping on the item you’ve won. When you provide your credit card information to join the club or pay for the shipping costs, you may not ever receive the free trip or free item, and you could begin seeing charges you didn’t make appear on your credit card statement.

If a thief finds copies of your receipts or any paperwork containing your credit card details in the trash, it can be used to make purchases under your name and account.

Fraud costs credit cardholders and lenders millions of dollars annually. Not all fraud can be preventing, but there are a variety of precautionary measures you can take to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of credit card fraud.

At the restaurant, keep an eye on the waiter or waitress as they take your card to the register to pay- or better yet, bring the card up yourself and stand there while it is processed. This will make sure that there is no time for anyone to write down your information. On the receipt, draw a line through each of the lines above your signature that contain money amounts. If you leave a cash tip on the table rather than deduct it from your credit card, draw a line through the tip line, or simply write in that space “on table”, so the waiter or waitress cannot later fill out the tip line to get themselves some money.

Whenever you receive a new credit card, sign the back immediately. Carry credit cards someplace other than your wallet. Save receipts from credit card purchases so that at the end of each month, you can compare actual purchases against what shows up on your statement to verify that everything matches and is correct. It’s just like balancing a checking account each month.

If shopping online, use virtual card numbers and make sure the website is secure and encrypts payment information before submitting to eliminate identity theft hackers from obtaining your information during transmission.

Avoid providing credit card details over the phone whenever possible.

Check your credit card billing statements every month, even if you haven’t made any purchases just to make sure that there are no purchases on the statement that you didn’t make. This helps you find fraud before it gets out of hand.

If you believe you are a victim of credit fraud or identity theft, get on the phone with your credit lenders immediately. Once it is reported, there are laws that protect you against charges made under your name and you will only be liable for up to $50, which is the maximum liability according to federal fraud laws.

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