In the midst of the global financial crisis, Americans cited credit and debit card fraud as their number one fear, surpassing that of terrorism, computer and health viruses and personal safety. For many Americans, this fear is not unwarranted.
Each year, credit card fraud costs cardholders and issuers alike hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. This crime affects more than 11 million U.S citizens, and during these troubled economic times, incidences are on the rise.
Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from this money and time consuming crime.
1. Prevent Criminal Access by Protecting your Credit Card Information
- Never lend your card(s) to anyone.
- Never write your account number on the outside of an envelope.
- Never give out your account number over the phone unless you’re making the call to a company you know is reputable. If you have questions about a company, check it out with your local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau.
- Sign your cards as soon as they arrive.
- Carry your cards separately from your wallet, in a zippered compartment, a business card holder, or another small pouch.
- Keep an eye on your card during the transaction, and get it back as quickly as possible.
2. Detect Suspicious Activity on your Account
- Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your account, just as you would with a bank account.
- Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place, so you can contact the proper authorities immediately if you notice any unsettling transactions.
3. Resolve Credit Card Fraud Thoroughly to Prevent Any Further Damage
- Call the credit card company and cancel your card immediately.
- File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
- Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number.1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 1-800-525-62852.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742 1-888-397-37423.) Trans Union: 1-800-680 7289 1-800-680 72894.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
Even if you have never been a victim of credit card fraud, you still pay for the losses with increases in the cost of goods and services to pay off the credit and charge card frauds. Do not wait until you are a victim of credit card fraud, take preventative actions to secure your personal information and avoid theft.
This guest article was written by Emily K. Pope. Emily is a content strategist for Trust Essentials, a personal protection portal specializing in identity theft, financial and legal security, and roadside assistance. Please visit trustessentials.com to learn more about protecting you and your family from common, but serious, threats.
Photo: joelogon via Flickr CC