Record-keeping may have been helpful in stopping a group of fraudsters who targeted at least 20 patrons of a Florida restaurant, according to a recent report by Florida Today. The victims had noticed thousands of fraudulent charges on their accounts after visiting the establishment and notified authorities accordingly.
"That was one of the good things here," Melbourne police spokesman Ron Bell was quoted as saying. "People kept up with their transactions so they were able to follow through."
Police are currently working with the restaurant as well as a third party in order to determine the source of the charges. They, along with California security expert Chris McGoey, offered advice for consumers hoping to protect their identity. First, they should take steps to prevent identity thieves from forging their signature, even if they do manage to get a hand on one's card. By writing "Ask for ID" on the back, consumers can put the burden on retailers to verify that their credit card is being used appropriately.
This also increases the consumer's power to refute fraudulent charges, according to the report. Stronger record-keeping practices can also reduce the amount of time it takes to remove these transactions from one's account.
"Photocopy the front and back of all credit cards so that, if the card is lost or stolen, you have easy access to the card number and name of your financial institution," the report said.
Storing receipts allows consumers to compare their actual purchases with the ones that appear on their monthly bank statements or credit card bills. They should also make sure that their restaurant bill matches the receipt that they sign at the end of the meal.
Credit card theft accounted for a small portion of the identity theft cases reported last year, according to a recent report by Javelin Research & Strategy. The study also showed that consumers are reducing the amount of time it takes to report and resolve such cases. Half of last year's victims reported that their accounts were compromised, leading to twice as many arrests as those reported in 2008. People age 18 to 24 reported worse credit monitoring habits - and took longer than any other age group to report crime.