If youve ever been the victim of credit card fraud, then you know just how traumatic it can be. Whats more, if not detected early enough, it could leave bad marks on your credit report that could haunt you for years. The most commonly thought of credit card fraud is when your wallet or purse is stolen, and the thief uses your credit cards to make unauthorized purchases.
But, with the rate on online buying growing at an amazing rate, another form of credit card fraudknown as misappropriationis spreading like wildfire. All that a thief needs to create havoc on your credit life is your credit card numbernot your actual card.
Here are a few ways that this type of theft can happen:
* One day you get a phone call, and the person on the other end of the line tells you that they have a special offerusually good for only a day or soand that you simply need to provide them with your credit card number to make a purchase. The solution? Dont ever give out your credit card number to anyone who calls you. Only provide it if you have called the company to place an order, and you are positive that it is a well-established reputable business.
* You are shocked to find that someone has gone through the bags of trash that you set outdoors for the early morning trash pick-up. A few days later when you receive your credit card statement, there are dozens of unauthorized charges. The solution? Always tear up your credit card receipts and bank statements before putting them in the trash. Many thieves go through unguarded trash bags specifically looking for these papers.
* You go out to eat in a restaurant and pay the bill with your credit card. On your next credit card statement, you notice that there are unauthorized charges that started the same day as your restaurant meal. It turns out that the waiter made an extra imprint of your card when he rung up your bill, and then used the number to go shopping. The solution? Many restaurants have placed their credit card processing centers in plain view of the customers sight to combat this problem. If not, you could follow the waiter to the charge station, and watch him throughout the process. Its also important to make sure that they know that they are being watched.
So, what are some other measures that you can take to make sure you arent a victim of credit card fraud? Here are a few suggestions.
* If possible, its a good idea to carry your credit cards and other bank information somewhere other than your wallet or purse. That way, if a thief nabs it, you will be out only your cashnot your credit cards.
* Its also smart to only take with you the credit card that you intend to use that dayleave the others at home.
* Be sure to have a list in a safe place that lists all of your credit cards, the numbers and contact information of the issuing company. That way, if you are unlucky enough to lose them, youll have the information necessary to contact them as soon as you notice the theft.
* Never sign a blank receipt, and always be sure to cross out blank lines. For example, if you bought something that didnt require a tip, cross out the tip line so nobody can add to it later.
* If you buying online make sure that you do so via a secure site.
* If you move, report your new address to your credit card issuer immediately. Some thieves look for moves, and then watch the mailbox of the old house, hoping that they can intercept a credit card statement.
By following the above suggestions, you will greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of credit card fraud!