|Avoiding Credit and Charge Card
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
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
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
- Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration
dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure
- Keep an eye on your card during the transaction, and
get it back as quickly as possible.
- Save receipts to compare with billing
- 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 Business Bureau.
Reporting Losses and
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
If you suspect fraud, you may be asked to sign a statement
under oath that you did not make the purchase(s) in question.