Credit/debit card fraud occurs when a criminal deceitfully gains access to and uses another person’s payment card account. If this happens to you, fraudsters may not stop at racking up charges on your card in a store. They can cause many other problems, including accessing and changing your personal information.
You can reduce your exposure to card fraud and theft by following basic card account maintenance and safety practices.
- Safely store cards when they are not in use.
- Consider the amount of cards you possess. The benefits of having several may be outweighed by the risks, such as losing track of their location or account activity.
- Always memorize your card PINs. Never write them down on cards or share them with others. Change them frequently.
- Make a list of your account numbers, expiration dates, and customer service phone numbers. Keep the list in a secure place that you can access quickly if your cards are lost or stolen.
- Go “paperless” with bills and statements. Otherwise, know when to except credit card bills in the mail and keep an eye out for them. If they don’t arrive, it’s possible an identity thief stole them, or gained access to your account and changed your mailing address. If you suspect this, call your credit card company immediately.
- Check your card activity and bank accounts regularly. Look for unfamiliar charges.
- Keep a close eye out for charges of less than a dollar or two. A thief may first charge a small amount to “test out” using your card. Unwary consumers often do not notice or care about small amounts, making them prime targets for identity theft and fraud. Report and investigate any questionable charges to your card immediately.
- When you receive replacement cards, thoroughly destroy the old ones.
- Stop unsolicited credit card convenience checks. Thieves can steal these from your mailbox or trash and use them to access your credit and identity. Contact your credit card provider to find out how to be removed from the appropriate mailing list.
- Don’t give out card information over the phone unless you made the call and you know you’re dealing with a trustworthy business.
- Assign just one credit card for online purchases.
You can stop receiving unsolicited, prescreened offers of credit or insurance by mail as well as phone or email. Go to OptOutPrescreen.com were you can choose to opt out for five years or permanently.
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