Your Best Defense Against Credit Card Fraud

MAR 09, 2011

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Are you trying to be wiser about how you use credit cards these days? Maybe you now pay off your balance in full every month, or avoid using credit cards to pay for consumables like food or utilities.

But all your good intentions and improved habits could get derailed if you haven’t taken steps to protect yourself from credit card fraud. Unauthorized use or attempted use of credit cards is the most common type of identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

You need to think about ID theft protection – whether you have 10 credit cards, just one or even none. Credit card fraud happens to people of all social and economic status, those who earn a lot and those who earn a lot less. Fortunately, there are ways you can protect yourself.

* Never carry more credit cards than you need. Lost and stolen wallets are still one of the top ways ID thieves get their hands on someone else’s credit cards and personal information.

* Avoid situations where you have to allow your credit card to be out of your sight.  Many merchants now use the kind of keypad that allows you to swipe the card yourself. If you do have to hand your card to a cashier, be wary of anyone who tells you he or she has to take your card into another room to swipe it.

* Consider ID theft protection products like ProtectMyID, which  can help you thwart credit card fraud by monitoring your credit and alerting you when something changes.

* Beware of scammers. Don’t give your credit card information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call. Someone may not actually be who they say they are. If someone calls posing as a threatening bill collector, for example, and you haven’t seen a bill, don’t give out your credit card information. Ask for a paper bill and/or a website address where you can pay online. Believe it or not, the Web is still more secure than the phone.

* When using your credit card online, only deal with websites that are secure. When you get to a page that asks you to enter your credit card information, the URL for that page should either begin with “https” or the page should display a closed padlock in the address bar or on the lower right corner of the page.