Avoiding Credit Card Fraud

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Imagine the following situations:

  • Someone rummages through your rubbish to find discarded receipts and then uses your account numbers illegally.
  • A shop keeper keeps a copy of your credit or debit card and then uses it to pay for other transactions.
  • A mailing asks you to call a long distance number to claim a free prize. You are told to provide your account number to sign up. You do so and are billed for transactions you never made.

    Credit card fraud is a huge industry costing consumers and card issuers hundreds of millions of pounds each year. It is a form of theft that is much more discrete than traditional robbery. While it is difficult to completely prevent card fraud from occurring, there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of becoming a victim.

    Guard Against Fraud

    Here are some tips you can take to help protect yourself from card fraud.

    Do:

  • Sign the back of your cards as soon as they arrive.
    Carry your cards separately from your wallet.
  • Keep your account numbers, expiry dates and company phone numbers and addresses in a safe place.
  • Watch your card while it is out of your sight during a transaction and seek to get it back quickly.
  • Destroy incorrect receipts and all carbons.
  • Compare receipts with your monthly billing statements.
  • Open your bills and reconcile your account monthly.
  • Report suspicious activity or charges promptly and in writing to your card issuer.
  • Notify your card issuer in advance of a change of address.

    Don’t:

  • Lend your card to anyone.
  • Leave your cards or your receipts lying around where others might find them.
  • Sign blank receipts. If there are blank spaces on a receipt, draw a line through them.
  • Write your account number on the outside of an envelope or on a postcard.
  • Give your account number over the phone, unless you have made a call to a company you trust. If you have a question regarding a company, check it out with your local consumer protection office.

    Report Losses and Fraud

    If your card is stolen or lost, report this immediately to the issuer immediately. Many companies have free emergency numbers specifically for such calls. By law, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges once you have reported it. Calling quickly will reduce your liability for unauthorised charges, and will help the card issuer to catch the fraudster or block the transactions, making life harder for the crooks.