According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit card fraud costs card holders and issuers millions of dollars each year. Credit card fraud can occur in many ways and often it is done without the perpetrators ever having the card in their hand. This is why it is extremely important to keep your card information safe and secure. There are steps that all of us can take to protect our card information and lessen the risk for being a victim of credit card fraud. Here are seven simple things you can do can to protect yourself from credit card fraud.
- Review Your Statements
This is an obvious one, but some people don’t take the time to look at their statements. If you don’t recognize a charge, even if it is a small amount, call your card company and get more details. It might just end up being a purchase you forgot about, but its better to be safe than sorry. Don’t be under the impression that credit card theft only occurs in large amounts. It is the small charges that can easily get over looked and end up costing people a fortune, check out this story $9 Dollars Here, 20 Cents There.
- Monitor Your Credit Report
Everyone is eligible for a free credit report form the three major credit bureaus. You get one free report every twelve months from each of the three bureaus. To stay on top of your credit report you can elect to get one report every four months. This way if there are any changes you can react immediately. For a free credit report visit annualcreditreport.com. If you don’t mind paying for the service you can elect to get regular updates if there are changes to your report.
- Report Missing Cards
You should periodically check your cards and make sure they are all in your possession. Some of us have cards we use regularly and some we hardly ever use. Just be sure you know the whereabouts of your cards. If a card is missing then call your card company right away and report it. They can cancel your card and often they can rush you out a new one if need be.
- Report Questionable Charges
If you see any unrecognizable charges report them right away. Fraud can occur in all dollar amounts so report even the small charges. It might be a case where it was just a charge you forgot about, but it could also be a case where someone has gotten your card information. Even if you still have your card in your possession you and you see an unrecognizable charge you should still report it. Companies often have 24-hour service to deal with lost or stolen card emergencies. By law, once you report your card lost or stolen, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. Your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card.
- Sign Your Cards
As soon as you receive a credit card in the mail you should sign it right away. This just gives yourself an extra bit of security. When a card is not signed, the merchant should ask to see an ID. Sometimes they don’t, but again this is just one small step you can take to protect yourself.
- Keep A Record of Your Account Information
Keep some sort of record of you card information. This information could include your card number, the contact information for the issuer, and the expiration date. In the event your card is lost or stolen you will be able to quickly contact the card company and get your card canceled before too much time goes by.
- Update Your Address
Always update your address information if there is a change. Most companies allow you to do this online and it takes no time at all. If you don’t update your address and your card company sends you a new card to your old address, then the card could end up in the wrong hands. This is an easy step in make sure your card and account information are safe.