Credit Card Fraud Detection and Protection Basics

Esther Halt |

It’s happening with increasing frequency – people who finally get around to checking their credit card statements see an unusual charge or go to charge a purchase only to find out their credit card is maxed out when they have hardly used it. Credit card fraud is a $200 billion a year business affecting more than 10 percent of households. That means there is a one in ten chance that you can be a victim of credit card fraud. But, if you know the credit card fraud detection and protection basics, your chances go way down.

Credit Card Fraud Detection Essentials

Sometimes it takes a brick to fall out of the sky and hit people on the head before they know something is wrong. Many people simply aren’t paying attention, often letting their credit card statements pile up or never checking their credit report. The difference between detecting a credit card fraud immediately and 90 days after the incident could be the difference in how much in time and expenses it will take you to resolve the issue.  These are some examples of the “bricks” that can hit you long after the fraud has been committed:

  • Your credit card account statement has unusual charges posted.
  • You get a notice that says you have been denied or approved credit even though you haven’t applied.
  • You get a call from a bill collector on an account you never opened.
  • You see an account you don’t recognize on your credit report.
  • Worse, you are denied credit because the credit bureaus reported a collection account or past due account you never opened.

The problem with credit card fraud detection is that it is always after the fact. If you can shorten the time between the fraud and the detection, you can reduce the time, money and effort it will take to resolve the issue. The most effective way to do that is by subscribing to a credit monitoring service that will alert you to any unusual activity the minute if happens. It’s well worth the $10 to $15 per month.

Credit Card Fraud Protection Essentials

  • The best credit card fraud protection is prevention. You are the only line of defense between your credit card and fraudsters so every measure should be taken to protect them.
  • Carry as few credit cards as possible – ideally just one; and carry it separately from your wallet if possible.
  • Keep a complete list of all of your credit card account numbers and the customer service numbers for each.
  • Sign each credit card as your receive them.
  • Dispose of all expired credit cards, credit card statements and credit card applications by shredding them.
  • Keep all credit card receipts so you can compare them with your account statements.
  • Go electronic. Stop all paper statements. Review your online account at least once per week.
  • Never give your credit card number over the phone except for transactions with trusted merchants. Never, ever give your account number when ordering food online.
  • Never, ever include your credit card account in an email. Nearly 50 percent of all credit card fraud is committed via email. Beware of email “phishing” attempts to get you to respond with any sensitive information.

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