Avoiding Credit & Charge Card Fraud
A thief goes
through trash to find discarded receipts or carbons,
and then uses your account numbers illegally.
A dishonest clerk
makes an extra imprint from your credit or charge
card and uses it to make personal charges.
You respond to
a mailing asking you to call a long distance number
for a free trip or bargain-priced travel package.
You're told you must join a travel club first and
you're asked for your account number so you can be
billed. The catch! Charges you didn't make are added
to your bill, and you never get your trip.
Credit and charge card fraud costs
cardholders and issuers hundreds of millions of dollars
each year. While theft is the most obvious form of fraud,
it can occur in other ways. For example, someone may
use your card number without your knowledge.
It's not always possible to prevent
credit or charge card fraud from happening. But there
are a few steps you can take to make it more difficult
for a crook to capture your card or card numbers and
minimize the possibility.
Here are some tips to help protect yourself from credit
and charge card fraud.
- 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 a record of your account numbers, their expiration
dates, and the phone number and address of each company
in a secure place.
- Keep an eye on your card during the transaction,
and get it back as quickly as possible.
- Void incorrect receipts.
- Destroy carbons.
- Save receipts to compare with billing statements.
- Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly,
just as you would your checking account.
- Report any questionable charges promptly and in
writing to the card issuer.
- Notify card companies in advance of a change in
- Lend your card(s) to anyone.
- Leave cards or receipts lying around.
- Sign a blank receipt. When you sign a receipt, draw
a line through any blank spaces above the total.
- Write your account number on a postcard or the outside
of an envelope.
- 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
Losses and Fraud
If you lose your credit or charge cards or if you realize
they've been lost or stolen, immediately call the issuer(s).
Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service
to deal with such emergencies. By law, once you report
the loss or theft, you have no further responsibility
for unauthorized charges. In any event, your maximum
liability under federal law is $50 per card.
If you suspect fraud, you may be asked
to sign a statement under oath that you did not make
the purchase(s) in question.
Federal Trade Commission, For the Consumer