Sunday, July 8, 2012

Credit Card Fraud: How to Protect Yourself

The alarming reality about credit card fraud is that thieves don't need to get your actual card to commit the crime. Once they gain access to your credit card information, they can start stealing your money. They can use the information to purchase online and even on the phone. Taking the necessary precautions is the best way to deter fraudulent acquisitions.

Keep an Eye on All Credit Card Transactions

When shopping at stores, make sure that you get your card back as swiftly as possible. Don't let it out of your sight as much as you can. When performing transactions over the phone, don't give out important credit card account details unless you are sure about the company's reputation. There are also some emails that request you to give out your credit card info. Don't respond to these tricks. These are considered as phishing scams.

Contact Your Creditor

If there is a suspicious purchase in your credit statement, make that call immediately. You can also communicate with the three major credit bureaus. They can place a fraud alert in your account so that no one will be able to access it. It is wise that you keep a record of all your creditors' contact information in case of emergencies.

Sign Up for a Monitoring Service for Credit Cards

Such services will actively check on your credit reports. You will instantly be informed if your account information has been changed or if a new account has been opened using your name.

Check Your Credit Card Bills

It is advised that you open your credit statements quickly as soon as you receive them. Examine the purchases you made and make sure that there are no questionable activities there. Treat your bills as if it is your checking account. Hence, you should reconcile it every month, on time and in full. You may also want to save your receipts so that you can compare your expenses with the purchases that are stated in your monthly bill.

Freeze Your Credit

This is a very effective solution against credit card fraud. This can help you prevent any business from accessing your credit except if they have already performed transactions with you. This seals your records so that new creditors cannot view your credit report. The problem with this is that it will be hard for you to seek a student loan or a mortgage. You need to unfreeze your credit records so you can use it again. This usually takes three days and there may be a small fee for the process.

What to Do In Case of Credit Fraud

Whether you lose your card or it has been stolen, the first thing to do is to contact your issuer. Most companies come with 24-hour customer service and they are eager to help you. The US law states that reporting theft or loss of credit card frees you of the responsibility to pay for illegal charges. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to maximize your protection against fraud.

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