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How to avoid credit card fraud

[Tuesday, February 28th, 2012]

As more people go out to the stores to spend money on gifts for the holidays, the risk of credit card fraud looms. According to a recent projection consumers will end 2011 roughly $64 billion more in debt through credit card spending than they began it with. It’s important that as you increase the usage of your card you remain vigilant about potential credit card fraud threats.

There were 650,000 consumer complaints of fraud last year and 273,000 identity theft complaints. A total of 721,418 CSN 2009 complaints were fraud-related. Consumers reported paying over $1.7 billion in those fraud complaints. A majority of people who suffer from fraud end up paying some amount (87%) of fraudulent charges or bank or credit card company fees. The average amount paid per credit cardholder is $399. Forty percent of consumers that suffer from fraud have used a credit card either online or in a store.

Those who suffer from credit card fraud are often also victims of identity theft. Having your credit card misused is not always a result the physical credit card being stolen. Your credit card number and or pin could be obtained online, in a restaurant or another public place and misused.

Tips for protecting your credit card information

First, regularly check your credit card statements for any charges you did not make. It’s particularly helpful to keep receipts and check them against your statements. Be sure to void incorrect receipts. The more you treat your credit card bill like a checking account, by reconciling the amount you spend with your balance, the better you can track any potential frauds.

Keep your credit card information safe and secure. Online shop only on secured web sites. Carry your cards separately from your wallet and be sure to get your card back promptly during in-store transactions. Don’t lend your credit card to anyone.

Be prepared in case of fraud. Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place. Cell phones, unencrypted flash drives and emails are not appropriate storage for your sensitive personal data.

How to react if you suspect your credit card was used fraudulently

Report any questionable charges promptly and in writing to the card issuer. If your card has gone missing or is stolen call your credit card company immediately. Most credit card companies have 24-hour services in order to help customers in case there are any emergencies.

Once you report the loss or theft, companies are legally responsible for any additional unauthorized charges. The maximum liability under federal law for any customer is $50 per card.

Many credit cards offer customers a credit monitoring service or additional protection. If you follow the recommendations and monitor your credit card charges, additional fee services should not be necessary. The Federal Trade Commission has released a video showing consumers how to file a fraud complaint.

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