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How to safeguard credit cards to prevent fraud

Published: Feb 7, 2012    Views 3290    Comments 0
This article is also available in: Polski

It's not always possible to prevent fraud from happening, but there are things you can do to make it more difficult for a thief to capture your credit card information therefore minimizing the possibility.

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There are over 600 million active credit cards held by U.S. consumers with an average debt of almost $16 thousand per household. This gives plenty of choices for credit card thieves. The number of U.S. identity fraud victims are steadily rising, 12 percent to 11.1 million last year. Fraud rates are on the decline but not the fraud attacks. This is in part because for the second consecutive year, online merchants improved their fraud management performance, making fraudulent transactions more difficult, however 52% are saying that fraud is now “cleaner” and more difficult to detect.

Are you doing everything you can to protect yourself?
Lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks and credit or debit cards made up 43 percent of all ID theft. It's not always possible to prevent fraud from happening, but there are some simple things you can do to make it more difficult for a thief to capture your credit card information therefore minimizing the possibility.

  • The issuing bank asks you to sign your credit card as soon as it arrives. I personally don’t think this is right thing to do as it gives the thief your signature. Write REQUEST ID in the space for the signature on the card. This adds extra layer of security, forcing merchant to see your ID.

  • Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place. When traveling, keep copy of these records including banks' international numbers in a separate luggage. This is just in case you card is lost or stolen and you needs to cancel your credit cards. If the unthinkable happens, call your credit card issuing bank as soon as possible to prevent any fraudulent charges.

  • During transactions, keep an eye on your card at all times to prevent someone from copying your card. This may be difficult at restaurants, where waiters usually need to go to their order station to process the transition. That’s where it’s better to pay with cash.

  • Don’t sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total such as in a place for amount of tip. And put a $ sign as close to amount as possible so that no one can alter it by adding any digits, especially when you’re adding a tip to transaction.

  • Always destroy receipts with carbon impressions of your card before throwing them in the trash.

  • Don’t give out any of your information over the phone unless you're making the call to a company you know. Normally, companies verify your information for your protection, but before you provide any info, don’t be afraid to challenge them and verify that the company is what it claims to be and that you actually have an account with them, especially when they initiate the call.

  • Be aware of your surroundings when you’re getting cash from ATMs. Use ATM machines in daylight, and don’t let anyone watch you enter your PIN. Don't use ATMs that look unusual or offer unfamiliar menu options. Don't reenter your PIN if the ATM eats your card. Contact the bank instead.

  • Review and reconcile your credit card account statements every month to catch fraudulent transactions as soon as possible.
About the Author
Henry Limowski is a freelance writer who shares his knowledge about personal finance and business catering to Polish community living in the U.S. He is dedicated to spreading financial awareness to help people save money. He's the president of QUELL Technologies, LLC, a parent company that owns PodatekDochodowy.com and AmigoLife.com among others.
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